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Follow-up meetings address anti-Semitism incidents at Cherry Creek

The Cherry Creek School District academic year has ended, but the echoes of anti-Semitism in some of the district’s halls have spilled into summer, according to Cherry Creek officials and parental activists.

On May 19, parents Rikki Mor and Maya Shalev, both with children who attend school in the Cherry Creek district, along with representatives from the Israeli American Council (IAC), met with Smith to follow up on progress of the district’s intent to form a task force aimed at combating anti-Semitism in CCSD.

Demands for change came to a boiling point during a May 8 board of education meeting. In the wake of that meeting, and in previous meetings between concerned parents and superintendent Chris Smith, a subsequent meeting has been held, with a notable advocacy group joining the mix.

The public comments portion of the last Board of Education meeting on May 8 was filled with emotional stories of anti-Semitic bullying at various Cherry Creek schools, with over 100 parents and students filling the gym at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora.

Prior to that board meeting, on April 28, a Holocaust presentation was made to students at Campus Middle School. Shortly after the presentation, two students posted on social media photographs of their arms painted with swastikas. At least one bathroom in the school was defaced with the swastika symbol painted inside.

The May 8 board meeting included an emotional testimony from 11-year-old Campus Middle School student Molly Ulitzky, who told board members of an incident in her classroom:

“All of a sudden this boy was talking about how his brother and his friend told Jewish kids to go back to the gas chambers,” Ulitzky told the board. “Since I’m Jewish, that really offended me.”

Although we’re in ‘summer mode,’ he (superintendent Smith) plans on having his team work on this to implement change before the start of the school year,” Rikki Mor told the IJN.

Mor noted that Smith is also working with the IAC’s anti-Semitism resources with hopes of supplementing those with ongoing input from the Anti-Defamation League.

“We met with members of the activism department of the IAC, which is a team that, unfortunately, has experience dealing with anti-Semitism at various other districts in the country,” said Shalev.

“The superintendent was intrigued by what he heard, and they have an ongoing communication as to the different programs that might be put in place.

“We’re hoping to hear more at the next board meeting.”

It was Shalev’s son Ido, a student at Campus Middle School, who was among the first students to alert parents and the school about anti-Semitic harassment in his school, including about the students who had swastikas displayed on their arms.

“I think they are taking this very seriously,” said Shalev. “They’re open to suggestions about how to approach new programs.

“The proof will be in the pudding at the start of the next year.”

“The superintendent had a good conversation with parents and is committed to continuing the conversation about how to combat anti-Semitism and all types of intolerance or hate speech in schools,” district spokesperson Abbe Smith told the IJN.

“Cherry Creek Schools is committed to equity and making sure our schools are safe and welcoming places for all.

“The group agreed to continue the conversation into next year.”

The district’s next board meeting is Monday, June 12, at West Middle School in Greenwood Village.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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IJN Staff Writer | [email protected]

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