Dear Homestead Community,
On Monday night, September 19, the district held a town hall meeting to talk with the community about the threats on social media that were posted over Labor Day weekend and targeted at Fremont and Homestead students. Representatives from various stakeholder groups were in attendance, including local law enforcement, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley and Instagram.
Parents and community members made some suggestions for ways in which our schools and district could improve its response in situations like this one. One major theme throughout the evening was the desire for our schools to take a stronger stance against any kind of hate speech and to address the issue directly with students. We agreed with this sentiment, and building off of this idea have crafted a message that was read schoolwide on Wednesday, September 21, 2016:
I want to take a few moments this morning to address a situation that occurred at Fremont and at Homestead high schools several weeks ago. As some of you may know, what we believe to have been a serious hate crime was committed, with threats to students at Fremont and Homestead posted on social media. While the district worked closely with law enforcement to determine the source of these threats, to protect the safety of all students at our high schools and to communicate about these events with parents, we regret that we did not directly address this situation with you, our students.
I want to emphasize that we have no tolerance for harassment, bullying and hate speech at any of our schools. What happened was hurtful to many people and we are better than that as a community. We are a community that embraces individuals of all races, religions, nationalities, gender identities and sexual orientations, and that diversity in our student body is something to be celebrated. Each one of you enhances our school community with your unique backgrounds and individual experiences and abilities. We would not be the incredible school that we are without each of you.
Please remember, no one has the right to belittle someone else. We want to commend the students from Homestead and Fremont that came forward to their administrators, teachers and law enforcement for their courage in speaking out. It is when we stand up for others and for what is right that we become stronger as a community. I would encourage you to do the same if you are ever confronted with hate, harassment or bullying of any kind, or if you witness this behavior directed at others.
Please know that we as your administrators and teachers will always act swiftly when we learn of any student being targeted with harassment or hate. We are here to keep each of you safe. If you would like to speak to someone about the emotions that this situation has brought up for you, please do not hesitate to come to speak directly to me or to one of our student advocates.
Moving forward, the district will be working with the Anti-Defamation League and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office to look at implementing some type of character education program for students. We will also seek input from parents and students.
I will be writing about this topic in more detail in my next Principal’s Message.
Greg Giglio, Principal
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