Every member of the Syosset Board of Education has been deeply disturbed by the messages and symbols of intolerance, hate and anti-Semitism that were painted on two of our school buildings. They represent ideas that are antithetical to the ideals of this Board. As parents and residents of this wonderfully diverse community, we are ourselves pained and we empathize deeply with the hurt and fear fellow members of this community may be experiencing.

Over the past years, the Board has dealt with an array of serious issues. As a Board we view this particular act as nothing less than an attack on the very character of our community. Nevertheless, the members of the Board have every confidence that character of the community is and will continue to be strong and unified.

We want to express our appreciation to our administration and the Nassau County Police Department who have coordinated their investigatory efforts and to Governor Cuomo for his offer to make State resources available as well. We have been kept apprised of the ongoing progress and at the request of law enforcement, we have limited our communication in order to avoid impeding their efforts.

Nevertheless we can take this opportunity to share our outrage. This incident is an affront to all, not just residents in Syosset and not just members of one faith. We cannot and we will not let this divide us. As we have in the past, we will learn from this and grow closer to one another and strengthen the deep ties to our community.

Earlier today, on behalf of the Board of Education, we met with members of the Interfaith Clergy Council of Syosset and Woodbury – leaders from many of Syosset’s faith communities – for a frank conversation and exchange of ideas. We talked little about the actual event. Rather, the consensus in the room was to look forward to community-building and celebrating our commonalities. They expressed appreciation for our decision to limit our communications to avoid amplifying hurtful messages, and we focused on how both the school and surrounding faith communities can partner to celebrate and reinforce the unity that continues to grow in Syosset, both in the new school year and beyond.

This Board serves the students and community best when it follows a methodical process – working together, thoughtfully and carefully – to ensure that we are fully informed before we take action. We will continue to be measured, even as we press for answers.

The emotional and physical well-being of our students remains our highest priority and we will do whatever emerges as appropriate. Moving forward, this will no doubt evolve into collective learning experiences for all – not as a reaction, but as age-appropriate refinements to our already rich character education efforts.

Whatever the authorities determine to be the motivation for these awful acts, we are reminded that no community, no matter how wonderful its schools, or how fortunate, diverse and tolerant its members, exists in isolation.

When our community is faced with adversity, it serves as a reminder that negative forces still exist. Let us be a beacon of hope, love, and appreciation for the overwhelming stability, education and diversity that our community embraces.

For the Board,
Michael Cohen, M.D., President
Tracy Frankel, Esq., Vice President