In an email sent to parents on April 18, Julian Principal Todd T. Fitzgerald shared the "deeply disturbing and disappointing news" that school officials discovered a swastika on the wall of the fourth-floor boys bathroom on Thursday.
"Based on the initial information we have collected from students and staff, we believe this reprehensible act was carried out sometime between second and fourth period today," Fitzgerald wrote in the email.
"We have already begun our investigation into this situation, and will keep the school community updated on the status of our efforts," he sated. "In the meantime, I want to thank the students who brought this serious issue to our attention, and our custodial staff, for working quickly to remove the image from the wall."
Fitzgerald said that he will address the school on Friday morning about the swastika incident and has "asked all of our teachers to reinforce both the message and our expectations during advisory."
Don't jump to conclusions, principal says
On April 15, Fitzgerald notified Julian families that on April 13 school officials had removed a more than 80-year-old mural at the middle school that some community members felt lacked diversity. The mural, called "Child and Sports-Winter," was painted by Ethel Spears in 1937 with the help of the WPA Federal Art Project. The mural shows a group of white students skating outdoors in winter.
The mural was located inside of Julian's cafeteria and had been a staple at the school since it was built in 2002. The artwork had originally been located at the now-closed Lowell School in Oak Park, according to Barbara Bernstein, of the New Deal Art Registry.
Fitzgerald said that school officials decided to remove the mural after some students and parents told administrators that the mural "did not reflect or represent the diversity of our student body, school or community."
After conceding that the mural's removal invited "diverse and disparate reactions" over the past few days, Fitzgerald strongly urged community members to "avoid making assumptions, jumping to conclusions or spreading unfounded rumors" regarding any connection between the mural issue and the swastika.
Fitzgerald said in the April 15 email that the school's Social Justice Club approached administrators about the possibility of "replacing the piece with something that is created by students with the help of our art teachers and community members." He added that school officials would talk to students about the mural's historical context, why it was removed and next steps this week.
Answer Book 2019
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