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Muslim Teacher Reprimanded Over Her Opinion on Gaza Crisis


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a complaint on behalf of a Muslim special education teacher against her school district after the teacher was reprimanded for sending out a “reply-all” email. According to the lawsuit, the district sent out an email on October 25, 2023, concerning the Israeli-Palestinian crisis in Gaza. The email was an effort to address the matter in the classroom and help teachers talk about the issue with students.

The Muslim teacher noted several problematic elements with the email. Firstly, the email characterized the dispute as a “war” between “Israel and Hamas.” The teacher took umbrage with this characterization and noted that Israel was targeting civilian populations with bombardment resulting in the deaths of 6,500 Palestinians (at the time). The teacher contended that the characterization resulted in the “erasure” of Palestinians and would cause the stereotyping of Palestinians and Muslims as “terrorists.” It would further alienate any Muslim student with a personal connection to the issue. The email listed several “resources” that school district employees could use. The teacher believed that these “resources” furthered the interests of the U.S. policy toward Israel as opposed to being a historically accurate representation of the current conflict. The resources neglected to mention allegations of human rights abuses. Nor did the email provide any information on the Palestinian perspective concerning hostilities.

According to the lawsuit, the teacher met with the official who had sent the email. The teacher said that the official understood her concerns but did not want to talk about the matter further. On November 1st, the teacher went to the principal to air her concerns. The principal told her that he would not advise her to send the email, but wouldn’t say “no” either. On November 6th, the teacher “replied all” to the original email that addressed her complaints about the provided information. The teacher felt that the email and general policy of the district toward Muslims and Palestinians created a hostile work environment.

After the teacher sent the email, she said she was called into the principal’s office and reprimanded. The principal told her to “cease and desist” from sending out further emails to listserv without prior approval. On November 16, the teacher received an email from the Central Office informing her that she was under investigation for her conduct and asking her to submit to an investigative review.

The EEOC has since filed a complaint with the school district taking up the teacher’s cause. The lawsuit contends that other teachers who had replied to all recipients on the list serve were not reprimanded for doing so. She believes that this action was taken punitively to punish her for expressing dissent.

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