July 19, 2024
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US Department of Education Launches Investigation Into Teaneck Schools

The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into Teaneck Public Schools following numerous antisemitic incidents that have occurred in the district since the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023. Among the issues are the inflammatory town council meetings, the Board of Education approval of the Teaneck High walkout for Palestine and inappropriate responses from Superintendent Dr. Andre Spencer.

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Department of Education did not specify the exact reasons for opening the investigation, but did, however, state that it is investigating violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

“[Teaneck Schools] has manifested a culture of intimidation and bias against Jewish students that is well beyond acceptable norms. They have also created a hostile work environment for employees and have failed to promote civil discourse,” said Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey CEO Jason M. Shames. “As such, we welcome the investigation by the U.S. Department of Education and trust that changes will be made to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students and other students who support Israel.”

Local community leaders urged parents of Teaneck students to file the Title VI complaints with the Office of Civil Rights against the district. “I think that the superintendent’s actions, the first letter that he wrote and the fact that he allowed this walkout where there was hate speech on school grounds, it shows a complete lack of understanding about what antisemitism is,” Hillary Kessler-Godin, a Jewish parent who filed a Title VI complaint against the district, told JTA.

The investigation comes after the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) called out the Teaneck Board of Education’s “unconstitutional restriction of public comments,” and was recently disappointed to find out that the Board had “doubled down on that censorship by adopting vague and viewpoint-discriminatory public comment guidelines.”

The Board of Education has yet to respond to FIRE and has not yet commented on the new Department of Education investigation.

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