By Ron Kampeas
Police and school authorities are investigating an incident in which Toronto middle school students gave the Hitler salute to a teacher who is the daughter of Holocaust survivors.
The incident is the third such display of Nazi symbology at middle schools in North York, a Toronto district, in recent weeks.
“One of our teachers, a French teacher, a Jewish teacher walked out of the room,” Shari Schwartz-Maltz, a spokeswoman for the Toronto District School Board, told City News, a local TV news outlet, on Tuesday. “When she came back into the room, several students surrounded her and gave her the Heil Hitler salute. This particular incident was very hateful, very hurtful, very upsetting to the teacher who happens to be Jewish, and she’s just allowed me to share with you that she’s also the child of Holocaust survivors. So this is something that hits her in the heart.”
Schwartz-Maltz, who chairs the school board’s Jewish Heritage Committee, said there would be “consequences” for the children involved, and that there would be expanded Holocaust education. “This has come from the top that we are committed to proactively bringing more Holocaust education into our schools for middle school up,” she said.
City News quoted Schwartz-Maltz as saying police were investigating, but would not add details. It said the teacher taught grade 8 at Valley Park Middle School, which bills itself as Canada’s largest middle school.
Schwartz-Maltz confirmed reports earlier this month that students at another middle school in North York, Charles H. Best, constructed a swastika in class in one incident and, in another, gave a Jewish student the Hitler salute.
After the most recent incident, Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Canadian arm of the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group, called for an “emergency intervention” by the school board.
“Clearly, something is broken in Toronto’s public school system and requires immediate attention,” the group told City News.