PERRYSBURG — Police began an investigation on Wednesday into racist graffiti that was found on a restroom stall at Perrysburg High School.
“It is heartbreaking to share this news but it is important for us as a school community to be transparent about the incident, publicly state there is no tolerance for this behavior and work collectively to confront hate whenever and wherever it reveals itself,” Tom Hosler, Perrysburg Schools superintendent, wrote in an email to the community.
The district is following its policies, having the school administration immediately begin an investigation and contacting the Perrysburg Police Division.
While the district is calling it a hate incident and a form of unlawful harassment, the graffiti is also vandalism, for which it is also being investigated.
“Perrysburg Schools treats all forms of hate speech seriously. Our response is swift, thorough and seeks to hold those responsible for the vandalism accountable. Ensuring a safe school environment for all students and employees is paramount in each step,” Hosler wrote. “We are grateful that this graffiti was reported and responded to quickly.”
Perrysburg Police Chief Patrick Jones said the school resource officer is conducting interviews and is reviewing security camera footage.
“We take these crimes seriously and we are going to investigate it and work with the prosecutor’s office to make sure charges are brought against this person,” Jones said.
Possible charges include criminal mischief, a third degree misdemeanor, but Jones said that it could be enhanced to a second-degree misdemeanor, under the ethnic intimidation in Ohio Revised Code.
Further details about the incident were not being released because it is an ongoing investigation and for confidentiality issues. However, the letter also noted that the board of education policy is to maintain an environment that is free from all forms of harassment and discrimination.
“We cannot disclose most student information, including discipline, per the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act, a federal privacy law. Also, once the police are involved, we cannot typically comment further than the police’s public statement when there is an ongoing investigation,” Hosler wrote.
Hosler added a personal note.
“I am deeply saddened by what happened and am discouraged by the actions of one or few,” he said.
He went on to point to efforts the district has been making to strengthen the school community and make it welcoming.
“Our diversity, equity and inclusion work was strengthened when we formed a cultural intelligence team, the CQ CommUNITY. From that, the group has planned professional development, led book studies and have made recommendations to address social justice-related issues. The Perrysburg Board of Education recently formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee that meets to exclusively discuss issues in this area,” Hosler wrote.