Congress Examines Antisemitism in K-12 Schools of Liberal Cities

( – House Republicans have spent months targeting colleges and universities over their perceived weakness when it comes to handling antisemitism. Outrage after those hearings led to the ousting of two university presidents. Now, they’ve turned their attention to K-12 schools in Democratic cities.

On May 8, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce heard testimony from K-12 school leaders from New York City, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Berkeley, California. Rep. Aaron Bean (R-FL) led the hearing because of an increase in antisemitism following the October 7 attack on Israel.

During the hearing, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY) questioned David C. Banks, the chief of NYC’s schools, about why he reassigned but didn’t fire the principal of a high school where protests occurred after a teacher expressed support for Israel online. The congressman asked how Jewish students were supposed to continue going to school at “Open Season on Jews High School” when that principal was still on the payroll.

Banks corrected the lawmaker, telling him the school is “called Hillcrest High School.” He said that his staff disciplined, removed, or is in the process of punishing approximately a dozen school leaders and staff members over alleged antisemitism. Further, he said that New York City Public Schools has suspended 30 students. As for what happened at Hillcrest, he said every school employee has due process rights.

Enikia Ford Morthel, the superintendent of Berkeley Unified School District, acknowledged people have made allegations of antisemitism in the schools but denied it was widespread. She told lawmakers, “Our babies sometimes say harmful things,” but that school officials understand “kids make mistakes.” She said those issues are not ignored when they occur but said they don’t make disciplinary action public because the information is protected under federal law.

Karla Silvestre, the school board president in Montgomery County, didn’t speak much during the hearing but acknowledged there were incidents of antisemitism in the school district and, like the other leaders, pledged to respond strongly.

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