Published in the December 6, 2018 edition


WAKEFIELD — At a joint meeting this week at the Walton School, the Town Council and the School Committee adopted “A Proclamation of Acceptance and Openness Among All Our Citizens.” Under an agenda item on civics education in the schools, the discussion turned to recent acts of hate speech in the area, including Wakefield, Reading and other nearby communities.

School Committee Chairman Thomas Markham said that he wanted to call attention to some “unfortunate incidents that have occurred around the town and the country.” He added that he wanted to talk about the issue of civics and civility while both boards were together.

Markham asked School Committee member Greg Liakos to read a draft proclamation for each board to consider and vote on at a later date.

After reading the proclamation aloud, Liakos said that the anti-hate resolution was particularly driven by a number of school-based incidents that have been happening with more frequency in the region.

Liakos said that he was “not so naive as to think that this is going to make a big difference,” but suggested that there was benefit in “re-affirming our values” and letting neighboring towns know that “they are not alone in combatting this.”

After some further discussion, Town Council members Ann Santos and Mehreen Butt said that they would be in favor of
voting on the proclamation immediately and other members of both boards concurred.

In separate votes, the School Committee and the Town Council unanimously approved the following “Proclamation of Acceptance and Openness Among All Our Citizens,” dated December 4, 2018.

“WHEREAS, it is the policy of the Wakefield Public Schools to prevent “harassment and discrimination based upon race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, limited English proficiency, disability, or housing status, and

“WHEREAS, several school communities in our region and beyond have experienced multiple incidents of racist, anti-Semitic graffiti and hate speech targeted at vulnerable students, and

“WHEREAS, anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in K-12 schools, with 93 reported incidents occurring in Massachusetts in 2017, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and

“WHEREAS, hate crimes in general have risen for two straight years, according to FBI statistics, and

“WHEREAS, the Wakefield Public Schools have also experienced instances of anti-Semitic and racist speech in recent years, and

“WHEREAS, the Wakefield School Committee, Wakefield Town Council , (and Wakefield Human Rights Commission), wish to publicly demonstrate solidarity with our neighboring schools and communities in condemning racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of hate speech,

“THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Town of Wakefield, through the elected and appointed members of its School Committee, Town Council , (and Human Rights Commission) stands firmly with the students, parents, educators, and citizens of our neighboring communities to reaffirm our message that Hate Has No Home Here, and

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, as duly voted by each public body, that this resolution be shared with school and municipal leaders across our region to strengthen our collective fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and all forms of discrimination.”