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Open letter from civil rights attorney to Baraboo School Board

MADISON (WKOW) — After seeing the picture showing dozens of Baraboo High School students raising their arms during a prom photo, a civil rights attorney and leader of a Madison synagogue is offering advice to district officials.

Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, also the president of Shaarei Shamayim, wrote an open letter, calling the actions by the students, “shameful.” He is now wanting the Baraboo School Board to promote change in critical thinking teachings, invite Holocaust survivors to speak to students and heal through restorative justice.

In the open letter, Spitzer-Resnick questions how students in Baraboo are taught about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“There are not many years left while Holocaust survivors who remember living through the horrors they survived can speak to your students, but though elderly, they are still available and willing to come to your school district to impress upon your children the horrors of the Holocaust and what the Nazi salute means to them. I would be glad to help if you need this assistance,” the letter read in part.

In order to move forward, Spitzer-Resnick is also asking the district to form a restorative justice initiative.

“Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime. Regardless of whether the police and prosecutors determine a crime was committed in this instance, this process can still apply when hate is broadcast so clearly. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results can be transformational. It emphasizes accountability, making amends, and uses facilitated meetings between victims, offenders, and other affected people to address the incident to help the parties move forward in a healthy manner,” his letter read in part.

Spitzer-Resnick’s letter also noted a Jewish family from Baraboo who attends Shaarei Shamayim. The family has three children who attend Baraboo schools. As of Tuesday night, the family is in contact with district officials.

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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