News from around the Ojai Valley

Matilija Junior High to hold community forum tonight at 6 p.m. at Matilija Auditorium

Austin Widger, Ojai Valley News reporter
The Ojai Unified School District will hold a community forum tonight, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m. at the Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Road, in response to nine Matilija Junior High School students forming the shape of a swastika with their bodies on the school field and a group of 28 seventh-grade students who participated in inappropriate text messages before winter break. The community is invited to attend.
The meeting will be moderated by Cyndi Silverman, regional director of the Santa Barbara Tri-Counties Anti-Defamation League, and Brianna Moffitt, director of education and community outreach for the ADL, in conjunction with OUSD Superintendent Andy Cantwell and administrators, Cantwell said.
The forum is not scheduled as an official school board meeting and the OUSD school board members will be in attendance in the audience, Cantwell said.
The forum will be an opportunity to discuss the topic from a school district perspective, Cantwell said. “We will give additional information the public may not have read in the media,” Cantwell said. “We will focus on community and student engagement and the community moving forward in the most meaningful way to address this topic.”
OUSD Board President Thayne Whipple said: “We want anyone to come to the meeting, even if they have already talked with people in the district. We want to make sure we are handling this appropriately.”
According to the Santa Barbara Tri-Counties ADL website, the organization “is dedicated, as is ADL nationally and internationally, to combating all forms of hatred and bigotry by investigating and exposing extremism, protecting as well as advocating for civil rights and religious freedom, educating on how to promote diversity and respect through our many programs and resources and by fostering interfaith relations. We handle victim complaints of all forms of discrimination.”
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