Antisemitism Accusations Against Staff Pose Dilemma for School Leaders

Throughout a series of congressional hearings about what public schools and universities are doing to combat antisemitism, Republicans keep hammering school leaders on one question.

Why haven’t they fired educators accused of antisemitism?

The accusations have come during a wave of demonstrations and discussions about the Israel-Hamas war on the campuses of public schools and universities. The Republicans leading the hearings have argued that school administrators have not done enough to discipline employees whose behavior they say has crossed from protected free speech into antisemitic hate speech and harassment.

But even defining what sorts of activities and speech are antisemitic is also hotly debated, including among Jewish families and organizations.

School leaders have had a variety of responses. Some have promised to crack down on individuals, by name, while others have refused to provide any information about employee discipline.

At one of the hearings at the Capitol this month, the New York City schools chief repeatedly leaned on one legal phrase: due process.

“We do not have the authority — just because I disagree — to just terminate someone,” the chancellor, David C. Banks, said. “That’s not the way it works in our school system.”

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