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Important Message Regarding Off-Campus Student Actions

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March 11, 2019

Below please find an update on the events and some of the immediate next steps our district is taking to foster a culture of understanding, care, and inclusivity.

Last week all schools that were involved in the incident that occurred the weekend of March 2 provided students and staff dedicated time and platforms to begin a dialogue surrounding these important issues in our community.  

Specific to Newport Harbor High School (NHHS), they had a schoolwide response rally with student speakers, a Holocaust survivor (grandmother of a student), and Rabbi Mintz. The Rabbi reminded students of horrors of the Holocaust and the impact that acts of hate have on an entire community. Esther Gyurik, the grandmother of a NHHS student, recounted her first-hand experience as a young Jewish girl during World War 2. All student leaders, from athletic teams, student clubs and organizations stood united in a call to action ending hate.

Guest Speaker (March 7) - Eva Schloss, Holocaust Survivor

Eva Schloss, a Holocaust survivor and Anne Frank’s stepsister, visited Newport Harbor High School to speak with students about her experiences in the Holocaust. Rabbi Mintz, and Rabbi Levi also were in attendance, facilitating the conversation.

Community Meeting Recap (March 7)

On March 7, school and district administrators, alongside students, community organizations, Rabbi Zylberman, and Rabbi Levi, hosted a second community meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update and to stand united in our commitment to move forward together.

The meeting included student speakers from Corona del Mar High School who shared their experiences and vision for a better understanding of history. Some of the student’s messages included:

  • “Our generation needs to continue telling their stories so the generations to come will not have to live in a world infiltrated by anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry,” Jordan Rosenberg

  • “If you see something, say something and always stand up for what you think is right even if you’re standing alone,” Maya Galante

  • “We can all be leaders, leaders do what is right even when it means going against the norm, leaders choose forgiveness regardless of the act, leaders choose kindness,” Solomon Soneshine

Rabbi Zylberman, Rabbi Levi, Jewish Federation of Orange County spokesperson Arlene Miller, and Jeannie Pepper-Bernstein from the BlazeitForward campaign spoke to the room of about 500 guests. Key themes from their statements were surrounding the history of the Holocaust and the need for the community to come together to jointly work toward healing and improving. School Board Member Karen Yelsey announced that an item will be placed on the March 12 board meeting agenda to recommend the formation of a Board of Education Human Relations Task Force.

(Board Designated) Human Relations Task Force

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Board of Education anticipates adding an item at the March 12 board meeting to recommend the creation of a Human Relations Task Force. The Task Force will help determine the best course of action to help educate not only our students but also our parents, teachers and the broader community as we work together to fight all forms of hate. The Human Relations Task Force will be charged with developing a district-wide action plan to determine how we can best create a more positive school culture and provide improved curriculum in our schools that will assure that the past is understood and never repeated.

We expect to capitalize on current partnerships, as we also invite new community partners to join us in this endeavor. While details of this task force are yet to be determined, it is anticipated that the Task Force will include representatives from community organizations based on their areas of expertise.

Next Steps

While we do not have all the answers, please know that we are being intentional in our next steps. We hope to continue the insightful, thoughtful, heartfelt dialogue with our school community to build and foster a culture of understanding, care, and inclusivity.

Please visit the district website news feed for updated information.


March 6, 2019

Dear Newport-Mesa School Community -

I would like to update you on the work our district is doing related to the actions taken by some students who created inappropriate and offensive anti-Semitic symbols during an off-campus event.

We continue to voice our values that condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all their forms.

Community Meeting (March 4)

On March 4, school and district administrators, alongside students, community organizations, and Rabbi Mintz from the Chabad Center for Jewish Life, hosted the first of two community meetings. The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update on the investigation and to stand united in our commitment to move forward together.

The meeting included student speakers from Newport Harbor High School who shared their experiences and vision for a better understanding and unified approach to this. Some of the student’s messages included:

  • “Compassion is key in moving forward, we have to hold ourselves accountable,” Jack Rogers

  • “It is everyone's responsibility. Our community needs to change. We need to stand up for what's right – every student, every parent, every community member,” Gina Leamon

  • “This does not represent our community or our school. It was insensitive and ignorant. Parents, please be a role model for your students, and if you're a student, be a trailblazer. Leave your legacy as someone who ignites change,” Ben Drakeford and Max Kwong

Rabbi Mintz and the Jewish Federation of Orange County spokesperson Arlene Miller spoke to the room of more than 500 guests. Key themes from their statements were surrounding the history of the Holocaust, the need for the community to come together to learn, change, and heal. They also expressed eagerness in partnering with our schools to jointly work toward a more inclusive community, free of hate, bigotry, and to foster love and acceptance. Also present at the meeting was the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Orange County Human Relations, both of which are committed to partner with our district.

Next Steps

At this time we are focused on investigating the situation, listening to our community, collaborating with community partners, and determining next courses of action.

We continue to have an open and active investigation, which has thus far included interviews with more than two dozen students and meetings with their families. We continue to gather information and evaluate the situation on an individual basis. Disciplinary action is being weighed, considered, and administered as appropriate. However, as with any potential discipline issue, we will not and cannot share anything further in adherence to student privacy laws. I can assure you that we are committed to holding students accountable, while also providing supports to encourage quality decision making.

Students and staff have had dedicated time and platforms to begin the dialogue surrounding these important issues in our community. Our district also continues to work with community partners to build and foster a culture of understanding, care, and inclusivity.

We will communicate progress as our district continues to work toward a plan of action. We are confident that with the support of our community we can maximize this opportunity to help our students learn and develop into respectful, productive members of society.

Community Meeting (March 7)

A second community meeting is being hosted in partnership with local community groups, on Thursday, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. at Corona del Mar High School in the Sea Kings Theater - 2101 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

Please visit the district website www.nmusd.us for updated information. We will follow up with additional information and next steps as we move forward.


March 4, 2019

This is a follow-up message regarding communication that was sent yesterday regarding the actions taken by some students who created inappropriate and offensive anti-semitic symbols, and engaged in possible underage drinking. While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in all their forms.

We continue to work with the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach Police Departments in this open and active investigation to determine the appropriate course of action.

Many times off-campus student actions, under the care of their parents and guardians, negatively impact our educational environment. We take our responsibility to students seriously when they are in our care and when their actions outside our care impact our learning environment. We do not shy away from this responsibility and we encourage our community to walk side by side with us on this journey.

We are hopeful in our ability to partner with parents and our community at-large to join us in doing what is right and instill high values in our youth.

We appreciate our culturally diverse population and we will continue to do all we can as educators to encourage a culture of understanding, care and inclusivity. This is a time to come together to ensure that we have a common understanding of good values and moral judgments to instill upon our youth.

In partnership with local community groups, two meetings have been scheduled for parents and students to discuss this matter. English to Spanish interpretation will be available.

  • Monday, March 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Newport Harbor High School  
  • Thursday, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. at Corona del Mar High School 

We will follow up with additional information and next steps as we progress through our investigation.


March 3, 2019

We were recently made aware of social media postings involving some students who created inappropriate anti-semitic symbols, and possible underage drinking. While these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-semitism and hate in all their forms.

We continue to gather information regarding the conduct of these students and work with law enforcement.

We remain focused on educating students on all aspects of life’s challenges and are committed to holding students accountable, educating them on the consequences of their choices, and the impact these actions have on our schools and community at large.

We ask that you as parents please partner with us in helping students make good decisions, be respectful of others, and to always use good judgment.

 

Posted by: Adriana Angulo, District Admin, Newport Mesa Unified School District Published:3/11/19
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