Jewish Group Lauds Federal Judge’s Decision on New York School District Anti-Semitism
A major American Jewish group voiced support on Wednesday for a federal judge’s ruling against New York’s Pine Bush school district, which sought to dismiss a lawsuit regarding children who suffered anti-Semitic bullying.
“The families of children traumatized by rampant anti-Semitism at Pine Bush schools waited far too long for relief from systematic religious harassment,” said American Jewish Committee General Counsel Marc Stern. “The Pine Bush school district must be held accountable for a longstanding pattern of hatred targeting Jewish students. Even now monetary relief can only provide partial relief for the trauma these students suffered at the hands of their classmates and, worse yet, from indifferent school administrators.”
The parents of five Jewish students filed the lawsuit against the school district last year. They said their children were traumatized psychologically, and harmed physically, by other students.
Swastikas were daubed on school property such as walls, desks and computers, which led to complaints to teachers and school administrators, according to the AJC. The lawsuit cited one incident in which a sixth grader was held by a student while another drew a swastika on her face. Coins were also tossed at students, and, in another case, an eighth grader “attempted to shove a quarter down [the throat of a Jewish student]” while another “held [her] arms so that she could not move.”
Judge Kenneth M. Kara ruled a jury could reasonably find that the students had “suffered severe and discriminatory harassment, that the district had actual knowledge of the harassment, and that the district was deliberately indifferent to the harassment.”
School officials did little or nothing to stop the bullying despite repeated attempts by parents to get teachers and administrators to act against the hate, AJC noted.
“Your expectations for changing inbred prejudice may be a bit unrealistic,” Philip C. Steinberg, superintendent of the Pine Bush Central School District, wrote to a parent of one Jewish student who had complained about the harassment.