FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – A 10-year-old Muslim girl found two threatening handwritten notes in her cubby in an elementary school west of Boston, and police are investigating the notes as a hate crime.
The first note came on Friday. Scrawled in pencil was: “You’re a terrorist.”
On Tuesday, the student found a second threatening note: “I will kill you.”
Neither the fifth-grader who received the notes nor the other students at the school are thought to be in imminent danger, Framingham School District Superintendent Robert Tremblay said in a news conference on Wednesday. “Safety is our priority,” he said.
In addition to the police investigation, the school district is conducting a separate internal investigation, Tremblay said.
The girl’s family requested her name not be published to preserve her privacy.
After the fifth-grader gave the first note to her teacher on Friday, the school didn’t immediately involve the police, hoping a student would come forward, according to Principal Elizabeth Simon.
The school emailed parents asking for any information they might have regarding the incident, but when the second note appeared on Tuesday, the police were involved.
The targeted girl is still going to school every day, said her uncle, Jamaal Siddiqui.
“All she said is she wants to be as normal as possible. She doesn’t want to be treated differently,” Siddiqui said.
The family has been an involved part of the Framingham community for decades, and he and his family members all attended Framingham School District schools, Siddiqui said.
“I’ve been through racism. My wife has been through racism. As adults we know how to cope with it,” Siddiqui said.
“But for our niece, she doesn’t know why she’s being targeted.”
Simon said this was the first discriminatory incident at the school. “We have not had something that was such a targeted, hateful message. … My staff is devastated.”
Tremblay said Wednesday that a bigger conversation around hate should be had around the state.
“This is a pervasive problem [that] we need to take a stand on and address,” he said.
“When you think about a child who’s in fifth grade,” said Tremblay. “That kind of hate, you know, where does that come from? It’s not an innate feeling that a child would have. And the concern that we have is, how is this a teachable opportunity for our classrooms?”
In an effort to bring students together, all fifth-grade students wrote nice notes to the student victim and the school is holding talks with each class to process the events, school officials said.