April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

In the wake of the Teaneck High School walkout, I felt compelled to act. I drafted and sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, which has jurisdiction to investigate violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, imploring them to take action.

I urge you to reach out as well. They must hear from us to understand how important this is!

The text of my letter is below, should anyone want to use it as a guide.

The office can be reached at [email protected] or U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington D.C. 20202, or call 1-800-421-3481.

* * *

As a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey, I am writing to report what I believe to be serious violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in connection with a pro-Palestinian, antisemitic walkout by students at Teaneck High School on November 29, 2023. This walkout was sanctioned by the Teaneck school superintendent, Dr. Andre Spencer and the Teaneck Board of Education, and took place on school property during school hours. It was billed by the organizers as a rally against genocide, and participants were advised to wear masks. During the walkout, the students chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” on the school football field during school hours.

The rally, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath have engendered fear on the part of the Jewish community in Teaneck. Jewish students and teachers are afraid to go to class, and have been subjected to antisemitic comments and insults. The broader Jewish community in Teaneck is also fearful, and there is a palpable feeling of antisemitism within the community.

Most recently, on December 13 a meeting was held at the Teaneck Board of Education, during which attendees were entitled to up to three minutes to make comments. Numerous Teaneck residents stood on line and participated by Zoom, waiting to have their say. However, at one point a known Jew-hater and nonresident of Teaneck went to the microphone and began making blatantly antisemitic remarks laced with profanities (Jews as descendants of Satan, Christ killers, etc.). No real effort was made to stop him, even though the police were present. When he finally left, the board terminated the meeting, leaving dozens of residents who had waited for hours, without an opportunity to speak. When a senior rabbi in the community went to the front table to ask a question, he was told by Valerie Fisher, a vice president of the board, “Get the f*** away from the table.” This is what we have come to.

It is my understanding that Teaneck High School receives federal funding, and is therefore subject to Title VI. I know that the Department of Education has recently been vigilant in investigating various colleges, universities and school systems for violations of Title VI, and I thank you for those efforts. I urge you to add the events at Teaneck High School to your investigations.

Thank you.

Respectfully,

Martin Stein

Teaneck

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