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Racist symbols found on Montgomery County school desk, police say

Montgomery County police officers were called to Tilden Middle School in Rockville Thursday after someone discovered swastika & KKK symbols on a desk.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Montgomery County Police Department is working to find out who left hateful symbols on a desk at a local school Thursday.

The department said it learned someone at Tilden Middle School in Rockville drew KKK and swastika symbols on a desk in pencil.

MCPS did not comment on the matter Friday. However, police said the school sent students home with letters about the incident the day it happened.

No suspects have been named in the case.

Some MCPS parents told WUSA9 they were troubled by the incident.

MCPS parent Gail Speedieberg said she's disappointed hate could be spread in a middle school.

"If at home, parents aren't teaching children that that's not okay, then it's important for them to learn at school and, even, for other children to hold their peers accountable because that's unacceptable," she said.

Similar incidents have happened in Montgomery County.

Walter Johnson High School students walked out of their classes in October to protest racist and homophobic graffiti that was found on campus days before. Then, in February, police said a former MCPS student sent violent, racist threats to the school district on social media. 

Last year, MCPS rolled out an "Antiracist System Audit" to review its policies and practices districtwide. In February, Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight said she wants to re-envision a district where "all students, families, and staff feel safe, valued, seen, heard, and successful". 

Part of the audit called on middle and high school families to complete surveys with questions that asked whether they felt comfortable talking with their teachers about race. Other questions asked students whether they agreed or disagreed with single-sentence claims, like: "I feel like staff at my school make assumptions about my intelligence based on my racial identity".

Speedieberg said she appreciates MCPS' efforts to solve racism in its schools.

"It's important," she said. "We can't sweep racism underneath the rug and we also can't ignore it. It needs to be spoken about."

The results of MCPS' audit are expected to be revealed by June, according to the school district.

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