Scarice Quells Rumors About “Appalling, Distressing” Video

Last week, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice sent a message to the community about videos being shared by students on social media.

Federal privacy laws prevented him from providing details.

Rumors swirled, as adults then took to social media. A number of readers contacted Scarice and “06880,” asking why the local media was not covering an incident that was offered as “fact,” but was actually based on misinformation.

Yesterday, Scarice offered this follow-up message:

Over the weekend, I heard from a number of school community members who expressed serious concerns about a video, created outside of school, that has been circulating among families and over social media.

Today, I have reached out and spoken to most of those community members who contacted me. I will not be able to call each one so I will provide the following information.

I cannot share specific information about student matters because of federal student privacy laws. However, given the circumstances and level of anxiety, I will share the following:

Superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice.

First, I want to reiterate what I stated in community messages on October 9 and 13: “Categorically together with you, the Westport Public Schools stand against, and condemn, all forms of hate and violence.”

Without question, the Westport Public Schools condemns antisemitism and all other forms of hate.

The circulated video in question was created before October 7, 2023. It was not a re-enactment of the atrocities in Israel that began after its creation.

It was an appalling, distressing video that was addressed swiftly and firmly by the administration, in collaboration with the Westport Police Department, after it was brought to our attention.

The school administration, and the Westport police, in consultation with the state’s attorney’s office, investigated the video in question and could not substantiate any threat directed to specific Jewish people or to the Jewish population more generally, nor that the video targeted any Jewish person.

These points do not minimize that the video in question is disturbing and has caused hurt and upset to those who have viewed it. Its circulation at this moment in time is especially painful.

I want to assure the community that we do not tolerate this behavior, that we are addressing this matter, and that we address all matters in ways that are appropriate and sensitive to all students and community members involved.

As always, if you have any information of hate-based conduct, please make a report to the building administration.

13 responses to “Scarice Quells Rumors About “Appalling, Distressing” Video

  1. Really tough one, from what i hear, the kids are good kids that made a very bad mistake in the most turbulent terrible times. Hoping and dont think it was based on antisemitism. There is sadly a lot of hate in the world, so far it has avoided our community. If they find out that is was a terrible mistake and not based on hate, hope the resolve doesnt destroy their futures.

    • Adam, I don’t know you and can only assume the comment you made about antisemitism “There is sadly a lot of hate in the world, so far it has avoided our community”, is based solely on ignorance. There is antisemitism in our community! As recently as two days ago, 06880 featured a story about Israeli flag lawn signs that were desecrated. A few years ago, swastikas and Stars of David with expletives were found in several locations at Staples High School.

      Antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world and our country. The ADL Center on Extremism notes nearly a 400-percent increase in antisemitic incidents reported year over-year. Just because we do not have pro-Palestinian demonstrations like we are seeing throughout the country and at our universities, it does not mean that antisemitism is not in our community. I am sad to report, it is.

  2. I left a town meeting last night where one parent after another stood up and spoke about the children. The children. The children. They need more of this. They need more of that. God forbid they have to share the land with a bunch of selfish, rude old gardeners.

    This is one of the most affluent towns in America; one of the best resourced school systems in the land. The children here are blessed with a safe, beautiful, enriching place to grow up.

    Parents need to stop blaming everyone but themselves for what their children do. Step up. And grow up.

  3. Children learn how to view the world and people around the dinner table.

  4. The video passed around is very disturbing. The question is how did we get there?

    I respect Tom and all his administration is doing for our kids in very troubled times with a lot going in the world, and our own country.

    There seems to be a value teaching gap between home and schools. It seems we are afraid to discipline for fear of legal action. This very scary. As Toni said above, a lot of this is on parenting.

    I remember as clear as yesterday, I was in 9th grade and Animal House was the must see movie. A couple of us decided to recreate the “food fight scene.”

    After tables flipped, and Bedford Jr. High (now SES) cafeteria a complete mess. Dr. Hightower tracked those of us who initiated it.

    No phone cameras, no lying, as the message was “we will track you down and call your parents.” That scared most of us.

    Our punishment- helping pick up tables from other schools to be brought to Bedford for the Westport Rotary Roast Beef dinner ( No Lobster Fest back then).

    Dr. Hightower was awesome, he said “call your parents and tell them you are helping us for extra credit.”

    The life lesson was invaluable. The work was hard, and punishment fit the crime.

    Today our teachers and administrators are held to laws that really keep the discipline in the home. Somehow we have to get parents and teachers on the same page in this social media world, that bad choices travel and stored somewhere.

  5. so if you support a ceasefire or show any empathy for the palestinian cause youre immediately labeled anti semitic even though the indigenous people are semetic. Godwins Law is in effect.

  6. The enemy is Hamas not Israel. Hamas is using Palestentians as human shields. They are keeping supplies for themselves then blaming Israelis.

  7. I agree with Toni !
    Please, children this children that ! Stop !
    As Stephanie said children learn their manners at the kitchen table.
    Teach your children manners. Or ground them appropriately until they learn manners.
    I used and still get emails from parents telling me how incredibly polite my children are.
    I was surprised. Is that not how all children are ?
    Well no ! It is not. As I came to quickly learn.
    My children were taught, nagged, please, thank you, hold the door, say have a nice day, I’m sure while it was happening they thought Omg.. moms a jerk..
    but I never have to wonder about my children’s manners. They are excellent.
    I even find myself correcting adults inadvertently, when an adult doesn’t say please, I say it for them. That is how I grew up.
    So what chance have those children, whose parents have zero manners.
    Teach your kids manners, now!

  8. Since it was used as a threat or at least an act of Intimidation, could be considered an incitement to violence, was used as harassment and extortion (pay $4000 not to be beheaded?), could be considered hate speech, and likely violates the terms of service of the social media platform used…all of which are criminal behavior…I wonder why you assert no laws were broken?

  9. In 1952, I entered Greens Farms School as a kindergartener. The Principal was Ms Leary, who was in her last year as the Principal. Then came Mr. Ready and everyone who attended Greens Farms when he was the Principal knows exactly what type of Principal he was! This guy was the best!! As a side note, my father born in 1918 also had Ms Leary.

  10. This video was made back in September. Let’s say 6 weeks ago and give Scarice credit for hiding it for so long. A beheading.

    Just like the overdoses and drug problems at Staples, you’ll hear nothing from him.or the BOE.

    Absolutely shameful.

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