Lawsuit Alleges Unchecked Antisemitism at NYC High School

A lawsuit alleges that Origins High School in Brooklyn failed to address persistent antisemitism, creating a hostile work environment. The complaint details incidents of hate speech, swastikas, and threats against Jewish students and teachers, which school officials allegedly ignored or downplayed.

Olalekan Adigun
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Lawsuit Alleges Unchecked Antisemitism at NYC High School

Lawsuit Alleges Unchecked Antisemitism at NYC High School

A lawsuit filed against Origins High School in Brooklyn, New York, the City of New York, the New York City Department of Education, and several school officials alleges that they failed to address persistent antisemitism against teachers and students, creating a hostile work environment. The complaint, filed on behalf of Jewish teacher Danielle Kaminsky and campus administrator Michael Beaudry, details a pattern of antisemitic incidents between October 2023 and March 2024 that school leadership allegedly ignored or downplayed.

Why this matters: This lawsuit highlights the alarming rise of antisemitism in the United States, which has broader implications for social cohesion and tolerance. If left unchecked, such incidents can create a culture of fear and intolerance, undermining the safety and well-being of marginalized communities.

According to the lawsuit, students engaged in acts of antisemitism and hate speech, including marching through campus chanting "F**k the Jews", glorifying Adolf Hitler as the "G.O.A.T.", drawing swastikas on a Jewish student's property, and telling a Jewish teacher they "want to kill all Jews." In one particularly egregious incident, Kaminsky received an email stating, "All Jews need to be exterminated. Their doors kicked in in the middle of the night. A bullet put in each of their heads."

The complaint alleges that school officials, particularly interim acting principal Dara Kammerman, sought to shield the students involved from disciplinary action. In one instance, a student who brought explosives to school after engaging in other antisemitic acts faced no consequences. Attorney Jim Walden, representing Kaminsky and Beaudry, stated, "It is disgusting that these acts occur at all, let alone in a public school in the most progressive and enlightened city in the world. But it is simply shocking that DOE refused to protect its own people and—worse—retaliated against them to put a lid on the vile, antisemitic behavior."

The lawsuit claims that the New York City Department of Education's inaction allowed the antisemitism to escalate, eventually leading to attacks and assaults on LGBTQ+ members of the school community as well. Kenneth L. Marcus, chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, commented, "Above all else, safety must be a school's 1 priority. Yet, New York City and Origins officials not only ignored violent, targeted threats, they attempted a complete cover-up. They shielded dangerous perpetrators, punished whistleblowers, and left Jewish teachers and students utterly vulnerable."

The legal action comes amid a disturbing rise in antisemitism nationwide. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 140% increase in antisemitic harassment, vandalism, and assault in the United States in 2023. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, seeks to hold school and city officials accountable for failing to protect Jewish students and teachers in the face of escalating hate and bigotry.

Key Takeaways

  • Lawsuit filed against Brooklyn's Origins High School for ignoring antisemitic incidents.
  • Incidents included hate speech, swastikas, and threats against Jewish students and teachers.
  • School officials allegedly shielded students from disciplinary action and retaliated against whistleblowers.
  • Lawsuit claims DOE's inaction led to attacks on LGBTQ+ members of the school community.
  • Antisemitic incidents part of a larger national trend, with a 140% increase in 2023.