Swastikas were found drawn on two classroom desks at Riverhead...

Swastikas were found drawn on two classroom desks at Riverhead High School, district Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said in a letter to the school community. Credit: James Carbone

Swastikas were found drawn on two desks inside a Riverhead High School classroom, according to the district superintendent.

In a letter sent to the school community, Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said a teacher informed administrators Thursday afternoon that the symbol had been drawn on a pair of desks in their classroom.

The swastikas were removed from the desks, Tornatore said in the letter, dated Friday. Principal Sean O’Hara spoke to the students known to be sitting at the desks and their parents, the superintendent said. Tornatore did not say in the letter whether the students drew the swastikas.

After an investigation, disciplinary action will be taken if it is warranted, he said.

“It goes without saying that this behavior is reprehensible and has no place in our community,” Tornatore said in the letter, noting the district has zero tolerance for behavior that is derogatory, abusive, racist or defamatory.

The incident comes as hate crimes remain a pressing problem on Long Island. In 2022, Nassau had roughly 60 hate crimes reported, up from 28 the year before, according to preliminary data compiled by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. In Suffolk, the number of hate crimes shifted slightly, moving from 28 in 2021 to 27 in the following year, the data showed.

Driven by bias, a hate crime targets a victim based on perceptions on race, religion, age or several other aspects, according to the state. Victims of hate crimes can be individuals, groups or even property.

In August, Suffolk officials said people in the county could call 311, which also links residents with government services, to report antagonism toward Jewish people, Newsday reported, and 631-852-HATE is also available to report hate crimes.

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