St. Teresa's Students Say Classmate Who Reported Swastika Photos Is Being Harassed

Sep 22, 2017

The students from St. Teresa’s Academy who posted photos of themselves drinking from cups arranged in the shape of a swastika are bullying the teenage girl who reported them.

That’s according to frustrated classmates who reached out to KCUR to say St. Teresa’s response to alleged anti-Semitism has been wholly inadequate.

“They will come up to her in the halls and make passive aggressive comments like, ‘Snitch,’” says Katie Gregory, who is friends with the student who reported her classmates for underage drinking and hate speech. “One girl told her and said she had better stop talking about the situation.”

Editor’s note: KCUR is not naming the students who posed with the swastika or sharing screenshots of the Snapchat photos because the girls are minors.

Gregory, a junior, says school administrators have sent two emails to parents but haven’t said anything to students. She says she hasn’t heard school officials use the word “swastika,” either.

Earlier this week, as news of the incident spread through alumnae circles, the morning prayer at the private Catholic school was for forgiveness.

“It was only a week or so after the incident occurred, so I thought that was a little bit insensitive to go over the intercom and speak to the whole school about forgiveness when the girls involved haven’t even apologized,” Gregory says.

As KCUR reported yesterday, the email sent to St. Teresa’s parents on Monday focused on the underage drinking and downplayed the swastika the girls involved built out of plastic cups while playing beer pong. The incident occurred off campus earlier this month.

“Because of the privacy and legal issues involved, we are unable to report every detail. ... After careful and complete review by the STA administrative team and in accordance with school policies, the students involved were disciplined,” the email read in part.

However, it’s been widely reported that the students received a one-day in-school suspension to reflect on their actions. They were also asked to write letters to the colleges they will attend.

But Gregory says even that’s not a big deal because the students involved are fellow juniors, only one of whom has committed to a school.

She echoed the comments of alumnae who say far harsher punishments have been doled out for less serious infractions. Gregory says last year, a group of students received three days of in-school suspension for going off campus to get lunch from Subway and McDonald’s – and that administrators regularly dole out in-school suspensions for dress code violations such as having a nose piercing or wearing red socks.

“In comparison to the punishment these girls received for posing with a swastika – and especially captioning it ‘Girls night!’ – I don’t feel like it’s proportionate,” Gregory says.

Gregory adds that what’s especially disheartening for her is that these are the same students that learned about the Holocaust with her.

“I sat with them when we learned history and what the symbol means and who died and who was targeted and what happened to them. We learned in graphic detail the torture that some of these people went through,” Gregory says. “To see them disrespect that is just so disheartening.”

St. Teresa’s has not responded to KCUR’s requests for comment, though St. Teresa’s Academy president Nan Bone sent an email to the Kansas City Star Thursday condemning racial discrimination.

Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.