The leaders of public school districts face questions from Congress


Leaders of some of the largest U.S. public school districts faced questions from a House panel Wednesday about incidents of antisemitism in their schools.
“Antisemitic incidents have exploded in K-12 schools following Hamas’ horrific Oct. 7 attack.
A senior committee aide told CBS News the panel didn’t issue subpoenas, but it did ask the school district leaders to appear voluntarily.
In a written statement shared with CBS News, the Berkeley United School District said Morthel “did not seek” to testify but has accepted the invitation to appear.
The Zionist Organization of America recently filed a civil rights complaint against Montgomery County Public Schools, claiming a failure to properly address antisemitic incidents in its schools.
The school district did not respond to a request for comment about Silvestre or the board president’s planned testimony.
The Montgomery County Public School District’s publicly posted policies on religious diversity say, “Each student has a right to his or her religious beliefs and practices, free from discrimination, bullying or harassment.”
The school district leaders faced questions about disciplinary action they have taken to address antisemitic acts in their schools, as they defended their responses and committed to making improvements.


CEOs of some of the biggest U.S. s. Questions concerning instances of antisemitism in public schools were posed to them by a House panel on Wednesday.

Chancellor of New York City Schools David Banks, President of the Montgomery County School Board Karla Silvestre of Maryland, and Superintendent of Berkeley Unified Schools Enikia Ford Morthel of California were summoned to testify before a Republican-led House education subcommittee.

Following Hamas’ horrifying October massacre, antisemitic incidents in K–12 schools have skyrocketed. 7 assaults. Due to district leaders’ inaction, Jewish instructors, students, and faculty have been denied a safe learning environment and have had to deal with antisemitic agitators,” Rep. Republicans Aaron Bean of Florida, who chairs the House subcommittee on elementary and secondary education within the Department of Education and Workforce, told CBS News.

The witnesses represent “some of the largest school districts in the nation where there has been some vile antisemitism,” Bean said in his opening statement on Wednesday. He also said that “the very need for this hearing is a travesty.”. “.

The panel asked the leaders of the school districts to appear voluntarily, but it did not issue subpoenas, a senior committee aide told CBS News.

The Berkeley United School District said that although Morthel “did not seek” to testify, he has accepted the invitation to do so in a written statement that was made available to CBS News.

According to a Berkeley schools spokesperson, “We work hard every day to make sure that all of our students feel welcome, seen, valued, and heard in our classrooms—places that are humanizing, respectful, and joyful. During this time, we will still prioritize our students and look out for one another. “.

There are a lot of Jewish students in each of the three school districts. Concerning the way in which reported instances of antisemitism were handled, each has come under fire.

In a complaint filed against the Berkeley school system, the Anti-Defamation League and the Louis Brandeis Center claim that certain children have been subjected to “severe and persistent harassment and discrimination on the basis of their Jewish ethnicity, shared ancestry, and national origin, and whose reports to administrators have gone ignored for months.”. “.

Alleging that Montgomery County Public Schools failed to appropriately handle antisemitic incidents in its schools, the Zionist Organization of America recently filed a civil rights complaint against the school system. An inquiry concerning Silvestre and the scheduled testimony of the board president was not answered by the school district.

“Every student has a right to his or her religious beliefs and practices, free from discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” according to the Montgomery County Public School District’s publicly posted policies on religious diversity. “.”.

The Brandeis Center has filed a civil rights complaint against New York City, alleging that the city has neglected to address the ongoing antisemitism directed towards teachers. When contacted by CBS News regarding its chancellor’s scheduled testimony, a representative for New York Public Schools pointed them to remarks made by Banks at a public gathering earlier this month.

“Public education stands for everything except exclusion and intimidation,” stated Banks. Whether they are verbal or physical, hate crimes involving antisemitic remarks are not acceptable. “.”.

“It creates more suffering and walls,” Banks continued. “We need to take a united stance against it. “.

As they defended their actions and pledged to make changes, the leaders of the school district were questioned about the disciplinary measures they had taken to deal with antisemitic incidents in their schools.

“We can’t just apply discipline to solve this issue,” stated Banks. Teaching is the real remedy for prejudice and ignorance. “.

Like the recent college administration hearings on efforts to combat antisemitism, the witness-legislator exchanges occasionally became heated. During one conversation, Rep. Elise Stefanik and Banks got into a heated argument regarding specific enforcement regarding purported antisemitic actions. Stefanik is the one who has led the calls for the resignation of several university leaders over the issue.

Concerning specific disciplinary action against a teacher, the New York Republican remarked, “You can give us an answer—you’re choosing not to.”. “It is not appropriate. “.

Ahnyae Hedgepeth made a contribution to this article.

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