Swastika graffiti found in MVRHS bathrooms

Staff to facilitate small group discussions with students.

MVRHS is looking for town meeting support to do a feasibility study on whether to renovate or build a new high school. –Gabrielle Mannino

Updated 3:15 pm Wednesday

Incidents of swastikas drawn on the walls of the boys’ bathrooms at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School have prompted school officials to come up with ways to have meaningful dialogue that addresses hateful and racist ideas and images.

In an email sent to parents, Principal Sara Dingledy wrote that swastika graffiti was discovered by custodial staff during routine checks of the school’s bathrooms.

Dhakir Warren, the school’s administrator of student affairs, told The Times the images were faint and drawn in pencil.

“We believe this is an opportunity to further educate students to issues concerning bigotry and bias; and how we need to be aware and considerate of how our actions are interpreted by the diverse members of the MVRHS community,” Warren said.

Once the graffiti was reported, the school investigated immediately, but said it was challenging to determine who had done it and when, due to the range of possible times and the number of students who use the bathrooms.

“We do not believe this instance of graffiti is representative of the views of our student body, nor is it condoned by the school community at large. Nevertheless, this situation is very concerning to us all,” Dingledy wrote. “We believe this to be an opportunity for faculty members to engage in open and heartfelt conversations about this topic to better inform our community about the history and impact of this symbol specifically.”

Dingledy said school staff discussed the graffiti at its most recent meeting, and felt the best way to address it was for staff to facilitate small group conversations during “Mentor Monday” on March 18. “Mentor Monday” is when each staff member talks with a small number of students for 40 minutes.

The school’s history teachers will also take time during their classes to address the swastika graffiti in their classes.

Rabbi Caryn Broitman of the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center praised school officials for the “quick action.” “A swastika is a symbol of hate that carries with it a threat of violence. It was the symbol Hitler used for the Nazis, and associated with the genocide against the Jewish people that resulted in the murder of [two-thirds] of Jews at the time. One cannot overestimate the pain that Jews experience when seeing such a symbol of hate. The swastika has also been a symbol of neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups who have either condoned or committed acts of mass murders and violent crimes against Jews and other minority groups, including immigrants, Muslims, African Americans and the LGBTQ community,” Broitman wrote in an email. “Each time a swastika is used, whether or not the person drawing it understands its meaning, communities are called to come together to oppose hate and clearly articulate the values of unity and respect that must underlie everything we do. We appreciate the quick action and thoughtful educational response of the MVRHS, and feel so grateful live in this special Island community.”


Updated to add comments from Rabbi Broitman. — Ed.


  1. “We don’t believe this instance of graffiti is representative of our school body” really? Should be easy to figure out who the outlier is then I guess.

  2. Clean the walls and issue a directive that if it ever happens again they will find the perpetrator and expel them immediately. That’s the end of it. Don’t make a federal case of it. Don’t indulge in group therapy and have everyone express their ”feelings” Kids don’t need ”education” on this stuff. This is pure vandalism.

    • Thank you! Sometimes, I feel common sense is dead around here until tiny snippets of hope arise. Point blank, could not have said it better myself. It’s part of a much bigger, uglier picture that, unfortunately Martha’s Vineyard is not exempt from. Hate begets hate begets hate.

  3. Why is it that this made the paper and not the threat that a student made against students and staff
    When school threats happen off island it hits major news networks fast

    I guess it just requires a good old boy system

  4. Offer a cash reward you will get the coward. Notice how every time this sort of thing happens the culprit always hides?

  5. I presume faculty has their own restrooms which leaves … the custodial staff to discover problem graffiti. The question whether it was a protest against school policies or a hate crime should be answered; dependent on the answer how to address. But to diminish concern about hate graffiti is an unwise path.

  6. You’re suggesting this was a protest? Seems like a stretch. I surely hope you aren’t suggesting a boys will be boys locker room talk defense.

  7. It’s not a matter of WHY they were drawn, the fact is they WERE drawn and it’s hateful regardless of the intent. Students AND adults need to understand the underlying reasons behind hateful images and why they are wrong in any circumstance. Also, why would discussing the action of drawing this symbol with students be an over-reaction from the staff? I think that is an appropriate response.

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