‘Outrage followed by disappointment’

Pascack Hills Principal reacts to swastikas, racial slur found in school bathroom


Josh DeLuca

Pascack Hills Principal Glenn deMarrais and Mrs. Heather Lutz, a Literature of the Holocaust and English teacher at Hills, react to the recent vandalism discovered in a boys bathroom. Several swastikas and a racial slur were found etched into partition walls of a stall by a faculty member on Nov. 30.

Pascack Hills Principal Glenn deMarrais said his “first reaction was outrage followed by disappointment” when multiple swastikas and racial slurs, drawn with pencil into the partition walls of a second floor boys bathroom in PH were discovered by a staff member on Nov. 30.

“I was not going to allow the idiocy of one or two horribly misguided individuals taint my perspective of who we are,” said deMarrais, who was only available to respond by email.

I was not going to allow the idiocy of one or two horribly misguided individuals taint my perspective of who we are.”

— PH Principal Glenn deMarrais

DeMarrais believes that the drawings were relatively new because all bathrooms were checked early November after anti-Semitic graffiti was found at Pascack Valley. However, he said that at this time, there is no evidence of a connection between the Hills and Valley incidents.

PH and PV comprise the Pascack Valley Regional High School District.

“I exchanged texts with [PV Principal Tom DeMaio] over the weekend and spoke with him at length early Monday morning before school,” deMarrais said. “We spoke about his recent experience at PV. He was very helpful and supportive.”

In response to the vandalism, deMarrais said that on Monday, Dec. 3, he and PH Assistant Principal Tim Wieland visited English classes to discuss the incident with students. The school also limited the number of bathrooms in the building to be used by students and developed a monitoring routine throughout the school day.

DeMarrais emphasized the need for PH students to report any information regarding the incident to faculty members or fill out the Google Form sent to the student body by PVRHSD Superintendent Erik Gundersen. The form allows students to anonymously report any information regarding graffiti to administration.

Mrs. Heather Lutz, a Literature of the Holocaust and English teacher at Hills and a third generation Holocaust survivor, was recently accepted into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Teacher Fellowship Program.

Thus, we cannot stand idly by.”

— Mrs. Heather Lutz

Lutz said that she spoke about the incident with her Literature of the Holocaust classes because “it was cathartic and important to discuss.”

“Students and I came to the conclusion that though the swastika immediately conjures thoughts about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, we should approach this hateful act from a larger perspective,” said Lutz, who was only able to respond by email. “Yes, I believe it is crucial to sensitize all students to the significance of the Holocaust. However, perhaps any school-wide action should address the humanity and diversity that makes each and every one of us special and important.”

Lutz said that the graffiti drawn by one or two individuals is not reflective of PH and all students in the district.

“The Holocaust could not have happened without millions of collaborators and bystanders assisting the perpetrators,” Lutz said. “Thus, we cannot stand idly by.”