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NY Post
New York Post
18 Nov 2023

NextImg:Parents petition NYC to probe pre-K teacher’s ‘campaign against Jews’

More than 200 parents at an Upper East Side public school have signed a petition asking the city Department of Education to investigate and address a pre-K teacher’s “ongoing campaign against Jews,” The Post has learned.

The petition at PS 59 complains that teacher Siriana Abboud has used her personal Instagram account “to promote hate and intolerance” with pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rhetoric.

“Hate speech and discrimination have no place in our schools,” the petition states. “Our teachers are the front line of defense in promoting a safe and welcoming environment for our children, and, regrettably, we have reservations about Ms. Siriana Abboud’s ability to fulfill this role.”

The petition first circulated on but was taken down after the phone number of a mother who launched it got passed around, and she received “disturbing” texts from strangers, parents said.

PS 59 principal Nekia Wise has flatly refused to discuss Abboud, becoming hostile when asked about the school’s sole pre-K teacher, parents say. 

“Is she able to teach Jewish children without her internal biases coming forth? Does she bring this up in the classroom? What is she telling them? What does she teach them about this, if anything?” a mom asked.

Principal Nekia Wise has refused to discuss concerns about Abboud, parents say.
medium @wisenekia

“She has very strong opinions. So how does that not bleed into her perception of the Jewish kids in the class?”

Staffers at PS 59 first raised alarms about Abboud early this year when she posted crude drawings of noses outside her classroom under the handwritten words: “Why do people have different noses?”

Several students posted answers, such as “family,” “ancestors” and “where you are from.”

A note signed “Siriana (PreK)” stated, “I think it’s based on your ethnic identity. In art, we learn that you can often tell ethnicity from the bridge of your nose.” 

Some teachers took offense after Abboud posted a display outside her classroom asking, “Why do people have different noses?”

Jewish staffers complained that the display stirred up cruel anti-semitic stereotypes. The school held a “restorative justice” session to let faculty members express their feelings. 

Abboud did not attend that meeting, and “nothing ever came of it,” a staffer said.

A DOE spokesperson said Abboud’s bulletin was removed in October 2022, and “reflected lessons and self-portrait artwork from All About Us, a standard unit in pre-K curricula.”

But descriptions of “All About Me” say it’s meant to help preschoolers master the names of their hands, mouth, nose, eyes, and ears, and learn how they use them.

The curriculum does not include using facial features to determine a person’s ethnicity.

In mid-November, a few weeks after the bulletin board incident, the DOE named Abboud among 49 educators honored with a 2023-24 “Big Apple Award” for outstanding work. “Her classroom is filled with vibrant cultural experiences that draw from her own Arab identity and the lives of her students and colleagues. Above all, she centers children’s agency and global consciousness,” the award states.

Abboud boasted about the DOE award on the website for her private online Allusio Academy, where she holds live classes for kids costing $55 each, and sells $75 consultation packets with resources and strategies for parents and teachers, among other services.

Her book recommendations include “P Is for Palestine” by Golbarg Bashi.

Some call the book antisemitic because it uses “intifada” for the letter “I”, referring to Palestinian uprisings against the Jewish state, and does not recognize Israel. 

Parents who spoke to the Post asked that their names be withheld, saying they feared retaliation against their children or outside attacks. Others are said to be outraged, but afraid to comment even anonymously.

An online petition to investigate Abboud was taken down after the organizer got “disturbing” texts from strangers.

After the principal did not respond to parents’ letters about Abboud, some wrote to schools Chancellor David Banks, asking “how someone with so much proven hatred toward a specific population can be allowed to teach.”

Parents begged Banks to step in.

“If someone doesn’t show enlightened leadership soon, we will be heading into an even more dangerous situation fueled by misinformation on social media. We’re already seeing it and it will get worse,” one said. “Schools and educators have a moral obligation to teach civility, understanding, and tolerance.”

The controversy over Abboud “spread like wildfire” beyond PS 59, parents said. Dozens debated the issue on the 41,000-member “UES Mommas” Facebook page.

A DOE spokesperson said Abboud’s bulletin was removed in October 2022, and “reflected lessons and self-portrait artwork from All About Us, a standard unit in pre-K curricula.”
Instagram @sirianajanine

One wrote, “I would legit sell my kidney to pay for Jewish school rather than allow my child near this ‘teacher.’” 

Another disagreed, ”This teacher is expressing her opinion as is her right to free speech” in this country.

Since The Post’s front-page article on Abboud, she has stopped posting ongoing commentary on the Israel-Gaza war in Instagram “stories,” and made her X page private.

She did not reply to a request for comment.

The DOE would not comment on Abboud, saying only, “Multiple communications have been shared with all NYC Public Schools employees emphasizing the importance of setting aside personal views about political matters during the school day, while on school grounds, or while working at school events.”