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School Superintendent Says She Faced 'Pushback' for Wanting to Implement Antisemitism Training for Staff

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

In November, Townhall reported how U.S. Department of Education announced that it had launched investigations into seven schools over allegations of antisemitism and “Islamophobia.” A press release from the agency showed that Cornell University, Columbia University, Wellesley College, and the University of Pennsylvania were some of the schools involved. 

Eventually, reports came out that certain school districts would be investigated by the Department of Education for these reasons. Now, documents undercovered by an organization appear to show that staff in one school district have pushed back on receiving training about antisemitism.

Documents obtained by Parents Defending Education and shared with Townhall found that the superintendent at Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts faced pushback from staff for trying to implement antisemitism training before and after Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel.

The superintendent, Anna Nolin, revealed this to a teacher in an email, the documents show. 

In an email sent Oct.10 to Nolin, the teacher stated: 

In the spring when you were onboarding, you met with me regarding the request I had been making since the previous fall, to deliver antisemitism education to Newton staff. The rise in antisemitic incidents in schools and the subsequent missteps in conversations with students and families about them made it clear that our faculty is ill equipped to support our Newton core values. In the past few days, Jewish and Israeli parents and teachers have contacted administrators about communication that was sent to families about the attack on Israel that they felt was victim blaming. 

When we met you told me that for your first year as superintendent you would not be putting in place new PD. I am asking that you please reconsider. The group that I developed the antisemitism PD with needs only the length of time of a staff meeting to give staff a better understanding of how they may be unwittingly perpetuating antisemitism and how they can support students and families.

In response, the superintendent said: 

 In the weeks prior to this one, given the concern of Jews from community about antisemitism, I have been trying to negotiate mandatory Pd For certain staff. There has been pushback on this.

In a separate email exchange, the superintendent was corresponding with a representative from an organization called “Facing History” about possible antisemitism training. In the emails, the representative said that “training your middle and high school humanities teachers in Contemporary Antisemitism” would cost $30,000 to $40,000 just for one full day with 100 participants.

Previously, PDE has uncovered a slew of documentation showing how Newton public schools undermine parents rights, implements divisive ideology in the classroom, and pushes an anti-Israel agenda. 

"Newton Schools have been in a race to the bottom for a while and their anti-Israel content has played a role in that. It is hardly surprising that the district employs people who oppose a one-day antisemitism training. This is actually very on brand for Newton Schools,” Erika Sanzi, the director of outreach at PDE, told Townhall. 

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