Amanda Bueno, a middle school principal at MS 136 in Brooklyn, sent out a pro-Palestinian email to all teachers encouraging political action against the Israeli attacks on Palestine. The email, which caused an uproar in the school system, included pro-Palestine links and insisted public school teachers join the fight to end the conflict in Israel.
“If you have been watching the news in absolute horror,” Bueno wrote in the email to MS 136 teachers, “you are not alone.” The email continued, providing resources from the Institute for Anti-Racist Education.
Amanda Bueno then listed the actions expected of the teachers: “You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Israel.”
WILL AMANDA BUENO GET FIRED? CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATE ON HER APOLOGY
The email was sent last week at the height of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Bueno wrote that “the time is now to take a stand for those impacted by state-sanctioned violence and crimes against humanity of the most vulnerable in our world.” The email then listed out a series of hashtags of a plethora of different activist movements.
#SaveSheikhJarrah, #GazaUnderAttack, and #MissingAndMurderedIndigenousRelatives were just a few. The Brooklyn principal, normally in charge of leading a united front with her fellow administrators and educators added: “We need not prove their humanity and right to exist for us to spread awareness about these issues. Empathy is the bare minimum.”
She ended the email by demanding that teachers “keep fighting for the world,” followed by a list of links to resources to educate teachers on the Palestinian plight. What likely began as an act of solidarity instead divided the school, with teachers complaining that they felt “very targeted and very attacked by her words.”
One MS 136 principal explained that they “opened the email” and were “in shock.” “These resources she provided, it’s propaganda.” The teacher then pointed out that “there was nothing in the email about Hamas rockets targeting innocent Israeli civilians.”
The email has sparked calls for Amanda Bueno to be reprimanded, facing consequences for breaking a fundamental New York City law. The law forbids requesting or encouraging public servants or city employees to engage in political activities.
Inna Vernikov, a New York City attorney, sent a letter to the Department of Education insisting Principal Amanda Bueno be punished. Vernikov knows teachers at MS 136 and said that some have “close family members who live in Israel.”
A Department of Education spokesman explained that “the matter is being addressed internally and was referred to the special commissioner of investigation for further investigation.” The spokesman continued, saying that “schools are not public forums for purposes of political expression, and staff may not use DOE resources in the furtherance of personal or political activities.”
“She should remain neutral,” one outspoken parent said. “In New York, you have so many different groups of people.”
Another parent called for the middle school principal to “stay in the middle. You are saying, ‘Support this group and not the other.’ That’s wrong.”
Amanda Bueno isn’t the first person in the past 12 days to spark outrage with their pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel sentiments. Celebrities and politicians have been using social platforms to express their views on the matter, many of which have been met with fierce opposition.