GARDEN GROVE (CNS) - Garden Grove Unified School District officials today condemned a video that made the rounds on social media showing members of the Pacifica High School boys' water polo team making a Nazi salute and singing a propaganda song.
The video was made in November 2018 before an event that was held off-campus, officials said.
“The video was shared within a small group of students on SnapChat,” district officials said in a statement. “It was not brought to the attention of the administration of Pacifica High School until March of 2019, four months following the banquet, at which time school administrators took immediate action and addressed the situation with all students and families involved.”
Federal law restricts school officials from saying how the students may have been disciplined.
“In response to this unfortunate incident, district and school administrators have reached out to community organizations to provide support that will continue to ensure an anti-bias learning environment and address issues of hate, bias and exclusion with all staff and students,” according to the district's statement.
“Pacifica High School, along with our other district schools, will be working with students, staff and parents to continue to address these issues in the fall in collaboration with agencies dedicated to anti-bias education.”
Officials said educators in the “highly diverse district” work to “actively combat bias and bullying.”
In March, high school students in Newport Beach were seen in a Nazi salute photo that sparked outrage. Some of the students, who were from Newport Harbor High School while others attended JSerra Catholic High School, could be seen playing beer pong with cups arranged in the shape of a swastika.
Alison Edwards, chief executive of OC Human Relations, said the organization has reached out to Garden Grove Unified School District officials to offer help.
“Everyone is noticing an increase of (similar incidents with) students, specifically linked to white supremacy,” Edwards said. “It's really upsetting and awful and we're doing our best to be out there every day to right those wrongs.”
“I can't remember a time when I worked here when we've seen so many incidents tying back to this kind of imagery,” said Edwards, who started working with the agency 20 years ago.
Peter Levi, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in Orange County, said he has been working with school officials to improve Holocaust education.
Referring the Newport Beach scandal, Levi said that was only the second time this year that the media learned of such anti-Semitism.
“These are just the two that have been caught. There are many more that are bigoted, anti-Semitic incidents that have happened that have not gotten press attention,” Levi said. “Sadly, we're seeing a normalization of these type of hateful expressions in our community and in our teens and high schools.”
Levi said he has been stressing to school officials that they should more publicly condemn anti-Semitic expressions in the future.
“If this happened months ago, why are we hearing about it now?” Levi said, adding that community leaders are “actively calling out behaviors and actions that don't meet the values of our communities and call them out for what they are.”
Levi said he told school officials, “When we deal with it publicly it sends a really strong message.”
Levi said the song the students were singing was unknown to him, indicating it must be obscure and difficult to find. He said it makes him wonder if any of the students had the potential to be radicalized by white supremacists.
“Are they visiting extremist sites and testing the waters with this hateful ideology?” Levi said.
Garden Grove Unified School District board members have a meeting on Tuesday, although the video is not among the items on the board's agenda.