WATERVILLE — Police and Waterville Public Schools officials are investigating a case involving racist graffiti painted on the outside of Albert S. Hall School on Pleasant Street.

The graffiti, written in black, was apparently spray-painted sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning on the back side of the school, Assistant Superintendent Peter Hallen said Saturday.

“It was the ‘N’ word and kind of a crude illustration of male genitalia, and it was at least 8 feet across and a couple of feet high,” he said.

Hallen said it is important that the schools and community work together to address the issue and spread awareness, as it is not just a school matter, but a community one.

“This is a public building,” he said. “Every resident and taxpayer, and everyone who comes to work in Waterville is part of this.”

School officials on Friday morning notified police of the incident, which was reported by someone who drives by the school frequently and saw the graffiti, Hallen said. Police Officer Linda Smedberg, the former school resource officer, responded quickly, according to Hallen, who said a school custodian temporarily placed a tarp over the graffiti.


Hallen notified students, school staff and parents by email that officials learned Friday of a “severely disturbing racial slur,” that had been spray-painted on the school.

“While it was not directed at an individual and implied no threat of harm, this cowardly and racist act affronts all of us and everything we are committed to as a school community,” Hallen wrote in that email.

After evidence was gathered, the city’s Public Works Department painted over the graffiti, which was on a wood section of the back of the school, Hallen said. He encourages anyone with additional information to contact police.

“While it was a priority to remove the racist graffiti before students returned to school, this is not an indication that we have moved on from the incident,” Hallen said. “We will not tolerate members of our community being targeted based on their identities.”

He said officials will continue to work with school civil rights teams, staff, student leaders and leaders in the community to respond to the incident and others like it to make sure the schools and city are welcoming and safe for everyone.

“To achieve this, we must come together as a community to denounce hateful actions and to support and embrace members of our community who are subject to such conduct,” his email says. “We encourage all of you to be proactive should you encounter behavior that conflicts with the Maine Human Rights Act and/or threatens your or someone else’s sense of safety.”


Hallen said Saturday that he and Schools Superintendent Eric Haley have spoken and they plan to convene the school administrative team next week to come up with a school-by-school plan, not to address just this incident, but other harassment and racially-motivated behavior.

Last year, civil rights teams were established in all schools and that effort was headed up by Hall School teacher Cathy Lovendahl. Hallen also spoke with her after Friday’s discovery.

“We started to discuss some bigger ideas around what schools need to do and how schools might be able to partner with the community to do some awareness and education for everybody,” he said.

Lovendahl sent an email Saturday to all Waterville schools staff saying that, on behalf of all school civil rights teams and as members of the school community and Waterville citizens, “we denounce this racist act.”

“On behalf of the Albert S. Hall School community we offer an apology, solidarity and support to our Black students and families,” Lovendahl wrote. “The Albert S. Hall School strives to be a safe and welcoming  place for students of color and we will not tolerate this discriminatory and disrespectful language. Hate has no place in this school. We will use this as an opportunity to remind ourselves why we are here. This is an opportunity for education, a time to remind ourselves that we, as a school community, stand for respect and inclusion.”

Possible steps people can take, Hallen advised parents, students and staff, include reporting hateful acts or incidents of discrimination that impact a school staff member or student to a building administrator. People may also report on the anonymous tip link which is available on the schools’ website: https://wtvl.aos92.org/.

Waterville Junior and Senior high schools also have access to the Say Something app that provides an anonymous platform for reporting concerns about personal or school safety, according to Hallen. He recommends people report immediately anything they think compromises school safety or that may be criminal in nature. The Waterville Police Department may be reached at 680-4700.

“This incident is the latest reminder that malicious hate and willful ignorance remain prevalent in our city and schools,” Hallen’s email to the school community says. “I want to state clearly that we are steadfast in our commitment to fostering a school community that is safe and welcoming for people of all backgrounds, experiences and identities. But we need your help. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of our community leaders with ideas, questions or concerns.”

“Officer Smedberg is investigating this case,” said interim police Chief Bill Bonney. “I would encourage anyone in the community with information to contact her so we can bring this investigation to a successful conclusion. We take any hate crime committed in our community very seriously and we cannot tolerate any person or group being targeted because of the color of their skin.”

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