UPDATE: Alpena Public Schools Apologize After Rock Hate Speech Discovered | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo by Charles Madison The large rock at the entrance to Alpena High School is seen here on Tuesday promoting the prom. School officials found the rock painted with hateful language and symbols on Saturday and quickly decided to repaint it. On Tuesday, the school issued an apology for not releasing information about the incident sooner.

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools officials apologized Tuesday for not releasing information sooner after racist slurs, homophobic statements and anti-Semitic symbols were painted on the rock outside Alpena High School.

Officials said in a press release that they became aware of the hate language on the rock on Saturday and enlisted student volunteers to paint the hate speech to avoid exposing it to the public, according to a press release. .

“Alpena Public Schools strives to create a kind and welcoming environment for all students, and we recognize that there is still work to be done to achieve this goal,” the district said in a press release. “Looking back, we recognize that covering the rock without acknowledging racist and homophobic language and anti-Semitic symbols was a failure to lead and causes further harm to those who suffer the evils of hate.”

Lee Fitzpatrick, director of communications for Alpena Public Schools, said the first instinct was to repaint the rock and conceal the language used. The administrators then had an ongoing discussion about what to do next.

“We’ve spent too long deciding what to do,” Fitzpatrick said Tuesday, acknowledging that there are community members who face hateful rhetoric.

“I just think it’s unacceptable to treat other people that way,” he said.

The rock was donated to the school several years ago and the students have used it ever since as a sort of bulletin board for current events and celebrations.

“In the presence of racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic language and symbols, our organization has remained silent,” the district said in the statement. “We will do our part to name the acts and words of hate. It’s not about guilt or the past. It’s about today, and it’s about doing what’s right. We must work together to ensure that Alpena Public Schools are a safe and welcoming school environment for all students.

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