update deskSchools & Higher Education

Second Title VI complaint filed against Maryland’s largest school district

It detailed incidents of ethnic slurs, swastika vandalism and pro-Hamas teachers, ringing the alarm bell about the threat to Jewish students.

School bus depot for the Montgomery County school sytem in Maryland. Credit: Matti Blume via Wikimedia Commons.
School bus depot for the Montgomery County school sytem in Maryland. Credit: Matti Blume via Wikimedia Commons.

The Zionist Organization of America announced the filing on April 18 of a Title VI complaint to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS).

In 28 pages, it detailed multiple incidents of ethnic slurs, swastika vandalism, pro-Hamas teachers and retaliation against educators, ringing the alarm bell about the threat to Jewish students.

Noting a previous Title VI filing against the district, the complaint states that it “relied solely on an opinion piece written by a Jewish parent and a Jewish teacher in MCPS. We respectfully urge OCR to open another investigation into the antisemitism plaguing MCPS, based on the ZOA’s detailed complaint, which is grounded in reports to us from many members of the MCPS community.”

Susan B. Tuchman, director for ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, told JNS that their complaint “describes in detail years of antisemitism in MCPS, at all grade levels, even before the Hamas massacre on October 7—and years of inaction and indifference from district officials.”

She noted anti-Jewish slurs that students had experienced, including Hitler salutes and jokes about Nazi concentration camps.

“Even after the Hamas massacre, when it would be reasonable to think that district and school officials would finally be more responsive to antisemitism, MCPS showed the same indifference,” Tuchman said. “When a Jewish student was recently told by another student that Hitler hadn’t done enough and that the Jewish student should go back to Israel, school officials didn’t even bother to alert the community to the antisemitism and condemn it. And they didn’t hold the perpetrator accountable.”

Tuchman told JNS that parents and community members had pushed MCPS for years to work harder to counter antisemitism.

“They’ve asked MCPS to take steps that are both reasonable and doable: Alert the community to antisemitic incidents and forcefully condemn them. Punish the perpetrators,” she said. “And provide education and training to staff and students about how antisemitism is expressed today, including relating to Israel.”

Tuchman lamented that previous efforts had “fallen on deaf ears.” She told JNS, “Now we are hoping that OCR will compel the district to finally live up to its legal obligations and provide Jewish students with the safe environment they deserve and are legally entitled to.”

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