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Civil Rights

Mar. 1, 2024

Helpline set up for students facing anti-Semitism

“The dramatic rise in antisemitism has hit California’s classrooms and playgrounds,” Dan Shallman, managing partner of Covington’s Los Angeles office, said.

Covington & Burling, Dechert and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld teamed up with the Anti-Defamation League, The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and StandWithUs to assist in a legal assistance program for parents whose children are experiencing antiSemitism in California schools.

“The dramatic rise in antisemitism has hit California’s classrooms and playgrounds,” Dan Shallman, managing partner of Covington’s Los Angeles office, said. “It needs to stop. We’re honored to partner with the ADL, the Brandeis Center, and StandWithUs to help ensure a safe learning environment for Jewish kids.”

The announcement came a day after the ADL and Brandeis Center filed a complaint against Berkeley Unified School District over accusations of antiSemitism in its schools.

ADL said it has recorded 256 incidents of antisemitism against children in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools since the Oct. 7 attack on Israels by members of the terrorist group Hamas.

“With reports of antisemitism in K-12 schools rising significantly since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, we wanted to ensure that parents and students have a place to turn to for legal help when they need it,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement on Thursday. “If this pilot helpline is successful in California, ADL and our partners will look toward expanding it to other states where antisemitism in schools is surging.”

In a 41-page complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education, the Brandeis Center described examples of teacher led walkouts for Gaza and Hamas using phrases “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a phrase that is interpreted as a call for the elimination of State of Israel. The complaint is filled with examples of children afraid to wear the Star of David in fear of retaliation and bullying. “Peer-on-peer anti-Semitic bullying has escalated, as students are emboldened to emulate their teachers and perpetuate the hostility against their Jewish classmates,” the complaint states.

“Spikes in antisemitic incidents in the K-12 schools, coupled with the failure of administrators to respond with meaningful corrective action, has created the need for a more unified and coordinated educational and legal response,” said Carly Gammill, director of legal strategy at the StandWithUs Legal Department. “All students deserve an educational environment free from discrimination and harassment based on their protected identities. StandWithUs is proud to partner with this coalition to achieve this goal and further protect Jewish and other Zionist students.”

Here is a link to the helpline.


Douglas Saunders Sr.

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