Controversy Surrounds NYC Pre-K Teacher’s Poster as Parents Call for Investigation

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Michael Fassbender

Controversy Surrounds NYC Pre-K Teacher’s Poster as Parents Call for Investigation

In a recent development, a pre-K teacher at PS 59, Beekman Hill International School in New York City, has found herself at the center of a heated controversy. Siriana Abboud, a 29-year-old educator, faced backlash after displaying a poster outside her classroom that some labeled as antisemitic.

Poster Controversy

The poster in question featured drawings of different noses along with the question, “Why do people have different noses?” A note on the poster, signed by “Siriana (PreK),” suggested that one’s ethnic identity could often be determined by the shape of their nose. This depiction sparked outrage among Jewish staff members, who saw it as perpetuating harmful antisemitic stereotypes.

Despite the outcry, the New York City Department of Education (DOE) did not take any disciplinary action against Abboud in response to the incident. The school did conduct a “restorative justice” session for faculty members to express their feelings, but no further repercussions were reported.

Instagram Activity and Parental Concerns

In a curious turn of events, shortly after The New York Post reported on Abboud’s anti-Israel lessons and the controversial poster, she informed families of her students that she was on medical leave and has not returned to the classroom since. Over 200 parents signed a petition urging the DOE to investigate what they perceive as Abboud’s “ongoing campaign against Jews.” They cited her personal Instagram account, where she allegedly promotes hate and intolerance with antisemitic rhetoric.

Notably, just two days after a Hamas attack on the Jewish state, Abboud posted messages of solidarity with those “tearing down border walls” and “fighting to free their stolen land.” Her Instagram page, boasting nearly 7,000 followers, is filled with Pro-Palestinian content and offers “teach-ins” on topics related to the history of Palestine, Zionism, and colonialism.

Lack of Communication and Demands for Investigation

PS 59 and the DOE have declined to comment on the incident and Abboud’s employment status, leaving concerned parents frustrated and demanding answers. Parents who have written letters to PS 59’s principal seeking answers have reportedly received no response. This lack of communication prompted one concerned parent to write to Schools Chancellor David Banks.

Call for Investigation

Amidst the controversy, Abboud’s silence prevails. She has not responded to requests for comment, including a voicemail left on her cell phone. Parents of students called for Abboud’s removal, expressing their concerns about her alleged promotion of hate and intolerance. The lack of transparency and communication from the school and DOE has further fueled the demand for a thorough investigation into Abboud’s actions and her continued employment as a pre-K teacher.

Respect for All Week and Bullying Prevention

Respect for All Week, scheduled for February 12 -16, 2024, aims to highlight and build upon ongoing programs to help students, staff, and communities gain a better understanding of diversity. The initiative also focuses on preventing bullying, intimidation, and bias-based harassment. The DOE has provided resources for reporting incidents of bullying and harassment, as well as avenues for seeking assistance and escalation if needed.

What You Can Do About Bullying

Parents and students are encouraged to report incidents of bullying to the school’s Respect for All (RFA) liaison(s) and/or school administration. The school is mandated to investigate and provide support services if the investigation finds that a student has been bullied or harassed. Additionally, there are online forms, hotlines, and email contacts provided for reporting bullying concerns and seeking assistance.

Escalation Assistance and Resources

For cases requiring escalation, there are avenues to seek assistance from escalation staff to coordinate the completion of an open investigation of a complaint of student-to-student harassment, discrimination, intimidation, and/or bullying. The DOE has also provided a list of resources for various communities and focuses, including anti-bullying, cyberbullying, and support for specific ethnic and religious groups.

Conclusion

The controversy surrounding Siriana Abboud’s actions as a pre-K teacher has sparked widespread concern and calls for investigation from parents and the community. The lack of disciplinary action and communication from the school and DOE has further intensified the demand for transparency and accountability. As the situation unfolds, the focus on Respect for All Week and bullying prevention serves as a reminder of the importance of fostering a safe and inclusive environment within educational institutions.

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