Montgomery County Public Schools student board member did not want to sign off on statement in support of Israel after terrorist attack; district employees accuse Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”


Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to Montgomery County Public Schools seeking emails regarding Israel from the district’s superintendent and Board of Education members. PDE specifically requested emails from the first couple of weeks after the terrorist attack on October 7, 2023. The district provided PDE with more than 1,100 pages of emails. Some emails that PDE received were from a student member of the district’s Board of Education who was elected by fellow students.

In one email exchange dated October 11-12, the Board of Education members were discussing drafting a statement regarding Israel. The draft statement included the line: “Hamas’ attack on Israel has caused great sorrow, anger and fear for many in our community.” The student member of the Board of Education stated about the draft:

I just want to say I do not want to be included in any message from the board on any topic surrounding this issue. If the board does decide to release a statement I want it to be noted that I did not sign off on the message.

PDE redacted the student’s identifying information.

In another email exchange dated October 16-19 that this student board member had with a principal, the district redacted the entire conversation before providing PDE with a copy. The conversation appeared to be on the topic of Israel since it was included in the documents for the public records request. PDE redacted the student’s identifying information.

One email that PDE received was from a special education teacher within the district dated October 11. The email was in response to a message from the district’s superintendent. The superintendent discussed the “terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Israel” in her message. The special education teacher then attacked Israel by asking the superintendent: “Where is your mention or acknowledgement of the social media images and videos of innocent Palestinian babies being killed at the hands of Israel and families being torn apart? I’m not referring to the images and videos of just the last couple days, I am speaking to the ethnic cleansing that has been going on for decades.”

The special education teacher then continued to accuse Israel of “settler colonialism” and “ethnic cleansing.” This teacher also appeared to accuse the local Jewish community of having the “wealthiest” voices. She stated:

Palestinians have been living in an open-air prison for 75 years. MCPS has continued to ignore the innocent Palestinians who have died. The truth is, MCPS supports settler colonialism and ethnic cleansing. MCPS continues to only listen and act according to the loudest (wealthiest) voices.

She then described herself as “a very frustrated over-worked special education teacher.” PDE redacted the special education teacher’s identifying information.

PDE also received an email dated October 14 from a different special education teacher in the district. She was responding to an email from the president of the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA). The MCEA president stated in an email: “The abominable attacks against civilians in Israel are deeply disturbing to us all, but they are especially devastating to our Jewish colleagues and students, many of whom have friends and family there. And anxiety and despair are spreading as the conflict intensifies.” This special education teacher responded by accusing the MCEA president of “implicit bias” for showing support to the Jewish community:

But when you say, “especially devastating to our Jewish colleagues and students” you seem to leave out everyone else, even as you are saying you understand that others are suffering, too. And then, at the end, you make an announcement for support for Jewish educators and their supporters, which further stresses the bias. Although I am a supporter of my Jewish colleagues, I am not a Jewish educator. I kept waiting for another message from MCEA to all educators in MCPS that would redress this implicit bias, I did not see one.

PDE redacted the special education teacher’s identifying information.

PDE received an email dated October 16 from a “fiscal specialist” within the district. This fiscal specialist attacked someone who spoke with the superintendent during a virtual meeting that day. This employee accused Israel of “colonial violence,” “genocide,” and turning Gaza into an “open-air prison.” The fiscal specialist stated:

As I recall, you expressed your support for those who have been affected by Hamas’s recent attacks without mentioning your support for Palestinians affected by Israel’s 75+ years of colonial violence, which includes its recent bombings on Gaza. The remarks you offered were highly problematic, as they erased Palestinians as being worthy of solidarity or condolences.

The employee then added regarding Israel fighting back after the terrorist attack:

This past week alone, over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by over 6,000 Israeli bombs, which are targeting civilians, hospitals, ambulances, and press. These bombings equate to genocide as Israel is using white phosphorous on civilians, which is a war crime.

PDE redacted the fiscal specialist’s identifying information.