On Jan. 16, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced a Title VI investigation of alleged “discrimination involving shared ancestry” at the Oakland Unified School District, which consists of about 34,000 students and nearly 2,300 teachers at 80 schools in Oakland, Calif.
The department doesn’t specify the nature of the discrimination. But a few days beforehand, J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported that at least 30 Jewish families had transfer requests approved between October and Dec. 19 to leave the Oakland Unified School District “specifically due to issues related to the Israel-Hamas war,” according to John Sasaki, the district’s communications director.
“I just felt that there wasn’t a path forward for Jewish families, because I had reached out to OUSD and asked them to have a conversation about how they were going to keep Jewish families feeling safe and included,” a parent named Rebecca told CBS News Bay Area.
“When there were lesson plans that were being taught that said, ‘Draw the Zionist bully,’ or ‘I for Intifada, J is for Jesus.’ And to me, it felt like—honestly—we were being targeted and singled out and alienated,” she added in the interview.
A catalyst for the exodus of Jewish families, reportedly, was a “teach-in” of the Oakland Education Association, a teachers union, that drew dozens of teachers. The union encouraged using pro-Palestinian lesson plans about the war in Gaza, including a coloring book for elementary-school students that states: “A group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land, so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”
The parents reportedly felt it was important to transfer their children out of the school district mid-year, despite the inconvenience, to protect their kids. Some were reportedly unable to do so, as other districts were at capacity.
JNS contacted the Oakland Unified School District for a statement but did not receive a response by publication time.