School district investigating racist graffiti at junior high

May 19, 2021

The Old Rochester Regional School District is investigating racist remarks and racial epithets that were found written on a bathroom wall inside the OR Junior High School.

According to the district, school administrators were notified by a student about the vandalism on May 17. The district launched an investigation into the vandalism, assisted by the school resource officer.

The vandalism has been removed and the investigation is ongoing.

"This type of behavior is completely unacceptable and disgusting," Superintendent Nelson said. "We want to foster an environment at all of our schools that is accepting and inclusive of all students. We are taking this issue extremely seriously and any students found to be involved in this incident will face appropriate actions within the district and with the police. With that said, I would also like to commend the student who found these hateful messages and reported it to an adult."

The graffiti follows other racist incidents in the district, including posts from a now-defunct Instagram account called republicanatorr, which featured the OR Bulldog mascot wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, with a confederate flag in the background. The post also featured an emblem representing QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory group.

“We are disappointed that the graffiti happened at the junior high,” said Tri-Town Against Racism’s Alison Noyce. “But I will say I’m not surprised.”

She said the graffiti was a reminder that racism can, and does, occur in the Tri-Town.

“It’s not unique to us, but we’re not immune from it,” Noyce said.

She noted that in years past, she wouldn’t have expected the district to come forward about issues such as the graffiti. She commended Nelson and the district’s transparency.

Noyce added that it was a good sign the graffiti was reported to school officials at all.

“They saw it, knew it was wrong, and did something about it,” she said.

Noyce feels the best way to prevent further racist incidents at the schools is to create open dialogues, and encourage white community members to drop their guard and be vulnerable.

“It needs to be something that people are okay talking about,” she said.

Noyce added that Tri-Town Against Racism is working with the school district to start a series of panels, which will include discussions with law enforcement and school officials.

The district's counseling staff is available to any students that wish to talk about the incident.

Anyone who has information about this incident can call either the ORR Junior High School Administrative Office at 508-758-4928 or Mattapoisett Police Department at 508-758-4141.