NYC schools boss defiantly insists antisemitic incidents have been dealt with in ‘appropriate fashion’ during grilling by Congress

Schools Chancellor David Banks was defiant as he was grilled by Congress Wednesday over his response to antisemitism in New York City lecture rooms — insisting that the egregious incidents have been dealt with “in an appropriate fashion.”

Tensions flared as Banks was slammed for his determination to reassign — not hearth — the principal of a Queens faculty the place college students rioted in November towards a Jewish instructor who had attended a pro-Israel rally.

“How can Jewish students feel safe in New York City public schools when you can’t even manage to terminate the principal of ‘open season on Jews High School?’” mentioned Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY), referring to former Hillcrest High School principal Scott Milczewski.

Schools Chancellor David Banks testified before Congress on antisemitism in New York City public schools on May, 8, 2024.
Schools Chancellor David Banks testified earlier than Congress on antisemitism in New York City public schools on May, 8, 2024. Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

“It’s not ‘open season on Jews High School’ it’s called Hillcrest High School,” Banks snapped again, including, “and we considered his leadership to not be strong enough in that school.”

“Is he strong enough to be on your payroll?” Williams prodded as Banks defended his determination to maintain Milczewski on metropolis Department of Education employees. 

House Republican convention chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) additionally quizzed Banks on Hillcrest, noting it was “very concerning” that Milczewski had been moved into the senior place of director of instruction when his management had been known as into query.

Banks was questioned by lawmakers about the decision to reassign and not fire former Hillcrest High School principal Scott Milczewski after antisemitic incidents at the Queens school.
Banks was questioned by lawmakers concerning the determination to reassign and never hearth former Hillcrest High School principal Scott Milczewski after antisemitic incidents on the Queens faculty.

“We have some teachers who have had some of these challenges, but we’ve had members of Congress who have made antisemitic statements, and I certainly would not cast aspersions on this entire institution,” Banks fired again.

“Similarly, I would stand in defense of New York City educators as well.”

In addition to the coed rampage at Hillcrest — which despatched the Jewish instructor cowering in a locked workplace for hours — the Big Apple public faculty system has additionally been rocked by a citywide pupil walkout calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and allegations of heinous antisemitism at Brooklyn’s Origins High School, amongst different incidents.

Rep. Elise Stefanik said it was "very concerning" that Milczewski was promoted to director of instruction.
Rep. Elise Stefanik mentioned it was “very concerning” that Milczewski was promoted to director of instruction. Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

Banks was on the offensive as he addressed the panel of 14 lawmakers, slapping down assertions that the DOE had “done nothing” to deal with the scourge of hate gripping town.

“I can’t state that I can prevent every incident, from ever happening, but … once it is brought to our attention … we respond in an appropriate fashion,” he mentioned.

Banks acknowledged that “antisemitism is the number one religious-based hate crime in America” however fell wanting admitting its stronghold on Big Apple schools.

“All forms of hate have no place in our public schools. And New York City public schools have been aggressive in fighting hate wherever it has reared its ugly head,” he mentioned.

A riot in the halls of Hillcrest High School over a Jewish teacher supporting Israel.
A riot in the halls of Hillcrest High School over a Jewish instructor supporting Israel. TikTok

Students, mother and father, educators and advocates for Jewish rights poured into the nation’s capitol to witness Banks and officers from Maryland’s Montgomery County and Berkeley, California face fierce questioning from the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

All three establishments are liberal-leaning districts with massive Jewish populations that have confronted alleged antisemitic incidents since Oct 7 — when Hamas launched a vicious assault on Israel.

They all condemned the phrase “From the river, to the sea” as antisemitic” — the strongest response heard by the subcommittee up to now.

Reps. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) joined Stefanik and Williams in quizzing Banks about his dealing with of Hillcrest and Milczewski.

“There are egregious crimes that have been committed under your watch,” Williams instructed Banks. “I want you to speak directly to the parents of Jewish students in New York City, how should they reassure their children that this antisemitic nightmare in your schools has come to an end?”

Banks claimed he speaks to Jewish mother and father on a regular basis and that Hillcrest was an instance of a scarcity of “proper supervision” and Milczewski was promptly moved to a distinct put up, noting that there’s “due process.”

Critics known as Banks’ testimony dishonest with Councilwoman Inna Vernikov saying that his feedback “make it seem as though NYC has somehow got a handle on antisemitism.”

Banks claimed that the DOE has responded in an "appropriate fashion" to reports of antisemitism.
Banks claimed that the DOE has responded in an “appropriate fashion” to reviews of antisemitism. Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

“He wasn’t transparent. He danced around direct questions and couldn’t say what disciplinary action was taken against antisemitic students and teachers,” she mentioned.

“As the hearing was going on, I got word that there was antisemitic graffiti at a public school in my district. The situation is obviously getting worse, not better.”

Others applauded Banks’ condemnation of antisemitism however agreed that he’d been “disingenuous” in his responses relating to accountability.

“He led the committee to believe he fired the Hillcrest HS principal when in fact principal Milczewski was promoted,” Maud Maron, a Manhattan mother and member of the Community Education Council District 2.

Since the eruption of the Middle East conflict, Banks mentioned there had been 281 incidents of hate crimes in NYC — 42% of these being antisemitic however reassured panel members that motion is being taken.

“We have removed, disciplined, or are in the process of disciplining at least a dozen staff and school leaders,” he mentioned.

“We have suspended at least 30 students, we’ve involved the NYPD when hate crimes are committed, and we’ve retrain all 1,600 principals on our discipline code to ensure that it is enforced properly. 

“Secondly, we’ve engaged dozens of partners to help us design longer term solutions.”

He went so far as to make use of the removing of a map from a NYC classroom that depicted the “Arab World” in which Israel had been left off for example of his administration taking motion — however claimed it had been an remoted incident and a failure of the applications instructor.

Banks famous that upon its discovery it was instantly eliminated — regardless of it taking widespread media protection earlier than being taken down — with at the least one staffer on the time, showing perplexed when requested whether or not it had been taken down.

In the lead as much as the panel Banks emphasised that the DOE has assembled an interfaith council and developed curricula on Jewish and Muslim historical past and crowed of the launch of a Holocaust instructing information created in partnership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

They’re additionally increasing their “Hidden Voices” collection — which highlights the voices of individuals forgotten in the historical past books — to incorporate Jewish and Muslim individuals.

And will maintain coaching periods for center and highschool leaders on how you can navigate “difficult conversations.”

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