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'Hitler Was A Genius': Teacher & Student Complain Of Anti-Semitism

By Rick Sallinger

CONIFER, Colo. (CBS4) - CBS4 has learned the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is now investigating complaints of anti-Semitism at a Jefferson County school by both a student and a teacher.

The principal of West Jefferson Middle School was sent a letter from a teacher in December. The letter, obtained by CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger, detailed what it called the anti-Semitic atmosphere.

(credit: CBS)

One line states, "Several Jewish students have been abused and intimidated."

It was the type of atmosphere described by eighth-grader Isabella Grunspan to the school board last month.

"I have (to) constantly deal with anti-Semitism and other students saying that Hitler was a genius," Grunspan said.

(credit: CBS)

Jefferson County School District spokesperson Diana Wilson said she was only aware of the student complaint.

"West Jefferson Middle School did receive a complaint of discrimination based on national origin," Wilson said.

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But a letter dated Dec. 1 a teacher told the principal students were told "Jews are like cookies, they are both baked in the oven." She added, "I have been and am illegally targeted by the administration and teachers."

The letter mentions a swastika being painted on the school building and on the Nazi symbol appearing student book binders.

The Anti-Defamation League Office has been aware of the student's situation since last fall, according to Regional Director Scott Levin.

Scott Levin
CBS4's Rick Sallinger interviews Scott Levin (credit: CBS)

"We wanted to make sure the young woman was safe, that she had talked to the school, that the authorities at the school were giving her the type of support she needed," Levin said.

The district has taken disciplinary action and put social awareness training into the curriculum. But the girl's family is not satisfied.

West Jefferson Middle School
(credit: CBS)

"I also had a teacher tell me that I should stick with another Jewish girl because she was being picked on because she was, too, Jewish," Grunspan told the school board.

A report on the Office for Civil Rights investigation is expected soon.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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