More than 200 Upper East Side parents have concerns about a public school pre-K teacher's anti-Israel rhetoric and have petitioned the city Department of Education (DOE) to investigate, according to the New York Post.
Circulating at PS 59 Beekman Hill International School, the petition states that teacher Siriana Abboud has used her personal Instagram account "to promote hate and intolerance" with pro-Palestinian content.
"Hate speech and discrimination have no place in our schools," the petition states, according to the Post. "Our teachers are the front line of defense in promoting a safe and welcoming environment for our children, and, regrettably, we have reservations about Ms. Siriana Abboud's ability to fulfill this role."
Parents told the Post that the petition was initially launched on Change.org but was taken down after the phone number of a mother who started it was leaked and she received "disturbing" text messages from strangers.
Abboud first raised eyebrows at PS 59 when she posted a display outside her classroom asking, "Why do people have different noses?" The question was accompanied by several drawings of noses.
Several students ventured guesses, writing answers like "family," "ancestors," and "where you are from."
Another answer that was signed "Siriana (PreK)" read, "I think it's based on your ethnic identity. In art, we learn that you can often tell ethnicity from the bridge of your nose."
Jewish employees at the school took offense and complained that the display recalled antisemitic stereotypes. The Post reported that the school held a "restorative justice" session in response, so staffers could express their emotions.
An employee told the outlet that Abboud did not attend the session and "nothing ever came of it."
Abboud's display was removed in October 2022 and "reflected lessons and self-portrait artwork from All About Us, a standard unit in pre-K curricula," according to a city DOE spokesperson.
In a post about book recommendations on the website for her private online Allusio Academy, Abboud talks about being "committed to social justice and equality" and recommends "P is for Palestine" by Golbarg Bashi. The book has been accused by some of being antisemitic because it uses "intifada" for the letter "I," referring to Palestinian uprisings against the Jewish state, and does not recognize Israel.
After PS 59 Principal Nekia Wise did not respond to parents' letters about Abboud, some wrote to New York City Department of Education Chancellor David Banks, begging him to intervene and asking "how someone with so much proven hatred toward a specific population can be allowed to teach?"
"If someone doesn't show enlightened leadership soon, we will be heading into an even more dangerous situation fueled by misinformation on social media," one parent said. "We're already seeing it and it will get worse. Schools and educators have a moral obligation to teach civility, understanding, and tolerance."
Parents told the Post that the controversy about Abboud "spread like wildfire" and was fiercely debated on the UES Mommas Facebook page, which has 41,000 members.
"I would legit sell my kidney to pay for Jewish school rather than allow my child near this 'teacher,'" one member reportedly wrote.
Another disagreed, saying, "This teacher is expressing her opinion as is her right to free speech."
The city DOE told the Post that the "importance of setting aside personal views about political matters during the school day, while on school grounds or while working at school events," has been communicated multiple times to "all NYC Public Schools employees."
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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