Florida student drew swastikas on classmates, deputies say

No hate crime charges will be filed

PALM COAST, Fla. – A student drew swastikas on two classmates and threatened to put another one on one boy's head on Thursday, according to the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

A woman contacted deputies when her grandson came home from school with a swastika mark on his hand. The Imagine School kindergartner told his grandmother that a fifth-grader drew the swastika there while they were on the school bus, authorities said.

The child who drew the swastika threatened to draw a swastika on the boy's head next time, deputies said.

The boy's grandmother called the school and the principal told her that the student who drew the symbol would be removed from the bus.

School administrators said the same fifth-grader also drew a swastika on another student.

Deputies were investigating to determine the motive and whether any other students were affected. They announced Friday that no hate crime charges would be filed because the child didn't understand the symbolism behind what he was drawing.

The boy told deputies he was "goofing around" when he drew the symbol. When a deputy asked the child what he drew on his classmate's hand, he said he didn't know.

Parents told News 6 they were surprised about the incident.

“It could possibly be the kids didn't know what they were doing,” Tara Libby, a parent, said. “I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Imagine School administrators plan to review video from the bus and send letters home explaining the incident. News 6 was provided with a copy of the letter.

"Imagine Town Center is a learning community centered on high expectations, both academically and in the conduct and character of our students," principal James Menerd wrote in the letter. "This incident is not consistent with our expectations of respect, tolerance, and civility toward all students. We take this seriously."

Menerd wrote that members of the school community should learn from this incident going forward.

"Please use this incident as a way to speak with your child about the kind of character that defines the expectations for our school and broader community," the letter said. "Please also be assured that incidents of this nature will not be tolerated."

The student who drew the swastikas on other students is not riding the bus, pending the outcome of the school's investigation.