Springfield police are investigating vandalism at the York Elementary School construction site, including a swastika spray-painted on a window.
Police spokeswoman Cris Swaters confirmed the investigation. The building, under construction, is expected to open in the coming weeks, at 2100 W. Nichols St.
The incident was reported at 9:42 a.m. Saturday. Swaters said since the investigation is active, she cannot say at this time if responding officers found anyone on the property.
Stephen Hall, chief communications officer for Springfield Public Schools, said the district worked quickly to remove graffiti on the exterior of the building and replace the window where a swastika was visible.
"Work began immediately," he said.
Hall declined to detail what damage was found inside the building, citing the ongoing investigation, but noted the district will likely have to file an insurance claim to recover some of the cost.
The district released the following statement about the incident: "SPS is working closely with the Springfield Police Department on its investigation of vandalism, including hate speech, at the York Elementary construction site. While this unfortunate situation is deeply disappointing, it will not deter us from opening the new building on time. It is our hope that those responsible will be identified and held accountable for their actions. In the meantime, the district will be forced to incur the additional cost of damages related to this senseless act."
The Anti-Defamation League, a national organization tracking and combating anti-Semitic hatred and violence, has reported a spike in incidents last year and this year.
In 2021, a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism were reported to ADL. It was a 34% increase from the prior year and the highest number since the group started tracking incidents in 1979.
Construction of the new York Elementary, at an estimated cost of $19.6 million, was started with funds left over from the $168 million bond issue approved by voters in 2019.
Work on the project started in summer 2021 with students and teachers relocated to a temporary location for the 2021-22 school year and the fall 2022 semester.
The new school, a significant upgrade from the aging structure built in 1911, is slated to open in January.
Claudette Riley covers education for the News-Leader. Email tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Anti-Semitic symbol, vandalism reported at Springfield elementary