“You’re a terrorist,” read a hand-scrawled note left in a fifth-grade Muslim student’s storage area in her classroom at Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham last Friday.
Another note left in the same manner on Monday threatened harm to the 10-year-old girl.
“I will kill you,” it read.
Following a letter sent to the community by Superintendent Robert Tremblay, school officials gathered for a press conference Wednesday morning to address what happened and let the public know how they’ve handled it in school.
“This is a community problem,” Tremblay said. “This is not a Framingham problem, this is not a Hemenway problem. This is a pervasive problem around hate that we have to take a stand on and address, and we’re here just to do that today.”
The incidents are being investigated, but officials don’t believe there’s a threat to students, according to the superintendent.
“We did inspect backpacks and things,” Tremblay said. “When you think about a child who is in fifth grade, that kind of hate, where does that come from? This is not an innate feeling a child would have.”
The school hasn’t had any other documented incidents like this, according to Principal Elizabeth Simon, noting that there has been some bullying, as in other schools.
“We work to ensure all students feel safe, but no, we have not had something that was such a targeted, hateful message,” she said. “It’s very upsetting to me and to my community because we take children’s safety as the most important aspect.”
Students were gathered to talk about what happened in a forum-type setting.
“Some of the students didn’t know what a terrorist was, so we had to explain that,” Simon said. “I did explain to them, this is unacceptable. It would be upsetting for any of us to receive that note, but the fact is [the student] is Muslim, and sending that note to a Muslim student becomes a hate crime.”
Each student was asked to write the victim a note of support, according to Simon.
Despite what happened, the student was at school Wednesday.
“She’s actually a wonderful student and well liked by everyone,” Simon said. “And she, with the support of her family and teachers, is here and participating, but I’m sure it’s very hard. It has to be.”
Watch the full press conference here: