CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Hate symbols and racial slurs found in Park City High School, educators investigating

Feb 11, 2022, 7:57 PM
The exterior of Park City High School, February 11, 2022. A tennis coach at Park City High School w...
The exterior of Park City High School, February 11, 2022. A tennis coach at Park City High School was charged Friday for her involvement in physical encounter with a player on Aug. 29. Photo credit: Paul Nelson

PARK CITY, Utah — Educators at Park City High School are trying to find the person reportedly drawing hate symbols such as swastikas and racial slurs inside the classrooms.  School district officials say their investigation is being taken seriously, and they want anyone with information to come forward.

Hate symbols and racial slurs

Park City High School social studies teacher Josh Goldberg tells the Deseret News he found a swastika and the N-word on the bottom of a desk in his classroom.  He tells reporters he wasn’t sure if the symbols were directed at him, personally.  However, he is a Jewish teacher that runs a Jewish student club out of that classroom.

Goldberg said, “This is not just an attack on me personally, or all Jews, obviously, because the N-Word was included. It’s an attack on all of us.  It’s an attack on decency.”

Since the word spread about the anti-Semitic symbols, he tells the Deseret News he has received at least 50 emails from students, parents and other members of the community describing other bigoted things they’ve seen at the school. 

School and district officials say this won’t be tolerated

Principal Roger Arbabi sent a letter to parents, saying there have been multiple incidents of hate speech over the past few weeks.  He urges anyone who has seen hate speech to talk with administrators, or leaves tips on the SafeUT app.

His letter stated, “As a community, we have zero tolerance for language or imagery that expresses hate towards a person or group based on religion, race, disability, sex or sexual orientation.”

Park City School District officials say incidents like this go against the core values of the district. And they’re working to create schools where racism isn’t tolerated.  District Superintendent Dr. Jill Gildea issued a statement saying attacks like this are “hurtful to all.”

The statement reads, “We work to support students and staff who have been affected by incidents. And we want to assure every student and employee that we are committed to safety and well-being.  Any incident, such as racist messaging, is additional evidence of the pressing need in our schools, our community and out nation to find ways to talk constructively and respectfully about diversity, race and religion.”

Reaction from the local Jewish community

Cases like this are no surprise to Rabbi David Levinsky with Temple Har Shalom.  He says Utah isn’t the only place seeing this kind of growing problem.

“There has really been an increase in anti-Semitic activity, really, over the past five years. But we’re seeing another surge over the past few months, and it’s across the country,” he said to KSL Newsradio.

Whether the anti-Semitic graffiti and racial slurs were made by an actual white supremacist, or just someone thinking it’s funny to get a rise out of others, Levinsky says it still speaks to fundamental problems still affecting this country.

He said, “Utah was founded as a refuge from religious persecution and it’s very upsetting to find this happening in our state.”

School district officials say these hate symbols could reach the level of what they call a “safe school violation,” and if a student is responsible, they could be expelled.

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Hate symbols and racial slurs found in Park City High School, educators investigating