‘Unacceptable’: GOP Rep Grills School Leader Over Incident Where Jewish Teacher Was Forced To Hide In Locked Room

Republican Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah pressed public school administrators over whether students, teachers and a principal allegedly involved in antisemitic incidents were punished Wednesday, focusing on the harassment of a Jewish teacher at a New York City high school.

Owens started out by questioning New York City Public Schools Chancellor David Banks about what disciplinary action was taken after a Jewish high school teacher was targeted by students during a November incident at Hillcrest High School after she posted a photo of herself attending a pro-Israel rally during Wednesday’s hearing titled “Confronting Pervasive Antisemitism In K-12 Schools.” Owens noted Banks disputed that the students at the high school who targeted the teacher had been “radicalized” before the incident.

“You said this notion that this place, these kids are radicalized and antisemitic is the height of irresponsibility. Do you think that these kids were not radicalized? Do you stand by that statement?” Owens asked.

“My statement at that time, yes, I stand by that statement,” Banks responded. “The entire school was not radicalized.”


Students at Hillcrest High School chanted slogans like “Free Palestine” and demanded the teacher’s firing while roaming the hallways of the school. Police moved the teacher to a locked room after some of the students later tried to force their way into a room where the teacher sought refuge, while others revealed the teacher’s personal information.

Owens continued to press Banks about the incident, asking what the response would have been if it had been a black teacher targeted by white students.

“My question is: If this was a black teacher being threatened and pushed by some white bigots, would you still say that these kids are not a problem?” Owens asked.

“If it was a black teacher that was being targeted it would absolutely be unacceptable and this was unacceptable,” Banks replied, adding that the principal of the school, Scott Milczewski, was removed. The New York Post reported that Milczewski was then offered an administrative position.


“Were there any consequences?” Owens asked. “I mean I’m hearing a lot of nice words here, really nice words, teaching, redirecting, directing, what I’m missing is discipline and I’m missing the word fired. Has anything happened to these kids that did this? This [teacher] was hiding for two hours.”

“I’m not sure if you heard clearly from what I said. I was very clear, we suspended a number of students who were the leaders at Hillcrest High School, number one,” Banks replied.. Number two we removed the principal of that school for lack of leadership and oversight. I don’t know how to make it much clearer. I condemn clearly what happened at Hillcrest. [It] was a complete act of antisemitism, it will not stand on my watch, we responded.”

Banks later clarified after further questioning that the principal was removed from the school, but not fired. “I have been offered, and accepted, the position of Director of Teacher Development and Evaluation within the Division of Teaching and Learning,” then-Hillcrest High School Principal Milczewski wrote in a letter to families and staff, according to the New York Post.

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