FRAMINGHAM – After a fifth grade student at Hemenway Elementary School received threatening and hateful notes, Framingham Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay responded swiftly denouncing the incidents.
Again yesterday at a press conference, Tremblay said ‘there is absolutely no place for hate in our schools.”
After the first incident, Principal Liz Simon visited every classroom. She said letters of love and care were sent from every student to the student who was the target of the hate. On Wednesday, other schools and their students sent positive notes to Hemenway Elementary. The schools PTO welcomes messages of support, as does the administration, from other schools and the community.
“We were so heartened to learn of the immediate love that enveloped this student from her teachers, fellow students and her community. It was so uplifting to see our community gather together so quickly to respond with the message that we will not tolerate hatred of any type in our community. We all agreed that our Framingham community is deeply committed to the safety, security and well-being of all our children,” said Temple Beth Am Rabbi Sharon Sobel.
“Hemenway PTO stands firmly with the Hemenway community against acts of hate. We will support the teachers, staff, parents, and students in any way we can moving forward. Hemenway is a school filled with students and staff from a multitude of backgrounds and cultures, and that is what makes it such an enriching place to learn and grow. We feel our children are at the forefront of this community. We want them all to feel safe, loved, supported and welcomed at Hemenway,” said PTO President Christine Chipolone.
The PTO has posted signs throughout the school to remind everyone who enters that Hate Has No Home Here at Hemenway.
“As a mother of children in this district, former Hemenway PTO president, and a School Committee member, I am devastated at the events of this past week. Moreover, they have been devastating to an innocent child, a family, the Hemenway community, and this city. My thoughts are with all those touched by this tragedy,” said District 7 School Committee member Tiffanie Maskell.
“First I want to commend Superintendent Tremblay for his quick repudiation, reaching out to the family and for bringing the community together to denounce the hateful act that occurred at Hemenway School. As I said a few weeks ago at a City Council meeting following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, I would like the residents of our city to know that Framingham will NOT, under any circumstance, tolerate hateful speech and hate crimes,” said City Councilr Chair Dennis Giombetti.
“Our city government stands steadfast behind the commitment to combat intolerance, violence and discrimination of any kind toward anyone. Our response to this incidence demonstrated that commitment,” said Giombetti. “Upon hearing the news of this incident I reached out on behalf of the City Council to Supt. Tremblay to offer any assistance, support and that we stood ready to help in anyway.”
“I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies to the family and more specifically to our student at Hemingway School over the despicable incidents that have occurred. I’d like to commend our FPS administration as well as Principal Simon, the teachers and staff at the school for the swift and prudent action taken thus far,” said District 5 School Committee member Noval Alexander.
“I’m absolutely appalled, but unfortunately not surprised by these abhorrent acts given the climate in our country at this time. Despite the unpleasantness we need to keep in mind that the possible perpetrator is most likely in the same age group as the student victim and whomever that is. I hope he/she finds the courage to come forward and reveal their identity. I say that because this is a teachable moment for the perpetrator as well as for the school and the wider community,” said Alexander.
“As a community we need to stay vigilant and reaffirm our message of love, compassion and tolerance for others while strongly condemning this intolerant behavior. My personal message to the victim and the family is please know that the people of Framingham by and large will stand with you,” said Alexander. “Stay Framingham strong and I hope in time the pain will subside.”
“Throughout my years of involvement in our community, I have been reminded each day of what a welcoming and accepting place Framingham is to call home. I was profoundly disappointed, angered, and saddened to learn of the events of the last several days. Such actions have no place in our community, and certainly no place in our schools. I have the utmost confidence in our school leadership to handle the matter appropriately; and ensure that every member of our school community feels respected, valued, and safe,” said District 4 City Councilor Mike Cannon.
“This event very much saddens me,” said District 2 School Committee member Ricky Finlay, who grew up in Framingham. “I’m proud of the way every one, including the children, have come together after this incident. Hate has no place in our community. We need to do better educating our community – that this is not allowed and unacceptable in Framingham. This is hurting every one. The family is hurting, and we as a community is hurting.”
“I am saddened that a child was the subject of such a despicable act here in our community. But, from my years in education I know children are so resilient, and I have seen Framingham be so as a community,” said at-large Framingham City Councilor George King, who is a former superintendent of Schools. ” I believe this disgusting act will only make us all stronger in our resolve to repudiate this kind of behavior. Today, my thoughts are with the child and their family and I hope they feel the outpouring of support from our residents as they deal with this horrible incident.”
“I was devastated to learn of hate crimes against a fifth-grade girl in our schools this past week. No human being should be subject to this; let alone an innocent child. My heart goes out to the victim, her family, her friends and our school department staff who are hurting as well,” said at-large Framingham City Councilor Cheryl Tully Stoll Wednesday night. “I went to the school this morning and left her a flowering plant and note from the City assuring her that, ‘Framingham loves HER.’ And we do. We love all of our children—even when they don’t love each other. In this particular situation, I am also very concerned for the perpetrator, who is most likely only a nine or ten year-old child themselves. No baby is born with hate in their heart.”
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer was in Alabama for a conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, but her spokesperson read a statement from her yesterday at a media conference.
“Hatred and discrimination will not be tolerated in Framingham,” read Framingham Public Information Officer Kelly McFalls.
“Framingham is about compassion , collaboration, hard work , and inclusiom,” said District 7 City Councilor Margareth Shepard. “As we move forward making our city a better place for all isolate incidents of hate , and any other obstructions , are just a step stone to strength our path.”
“This action is a discriminatory hate crime and must never be tolerated at any level. Compassion, supportive communication, and respect are part of the norms I see constantly within the Framingham Public Schools. The quick response by FPS Administrators to work with the Hemenway community and set the right tone is appreciated,” said School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg.
“The Interfaith Clergy of Framingham is committed to partnering with the Framingham Superintendent of Schools, the Mayor and the Police on programs that will strengthen the unity of our community, on programs that will enable our students to develop a community of learners who respect themselves and others, on programs that will highlight our diversity, on programs that celebrate the unique cultures that weave together the beautiful tapestry of our community, on programs that educate each other about each of our traditions, on programs that will help eradicate racism, intolerance, hatred, violence and xenophobia. We stand together as one united community, strengthened by our resolve and commitment to action,” said Rabbi Sobel.
“We will figure this out,” said Superintendent Tremblay, who said the district, with Framingham Police are still investigating the notes, and have yet to identify the author.
Tully Stoll said “When we find out who did this; the perpetrator needs to be punished and EDUCATED. However, if the perpetrator is indeed a child; community leaders also need to have a very sincere talk with the adults in that’s child’s life. What that child is learning outside of school will clearly inhibit their future success.
Hate speech; whether verbal or in anonymous notes, is an affront to all of the wonderful people who live in our great city. Framingham is a welcoming and diverse community that not only celebrates our diversity; but is stronger because of it. I pray that the victim and her family are able to find some solace in the outpouring of support from our wonderful community. This incident is an aberration, and many of us are committed to making sure that it never happens again.”
“We will come together, and we will heal as a community. We will use this as a platform to say we stand against this. We won’t tolerate it. We won’t tolerate it here, and we shouldn’t tolerate it anywhere,” said Tremblay.