NYC DOE official agrees to address ‘anti-Jewish culture’

The early-childhood staffer stranded in Israel when war erupted will finally be coming home Sunday, following The Post’s report on her plight — and when she does she’ll meet with a top city Department of Education official about what she called the agency’s “anti-Jewish culture.”

“On the feeling like there’s systemic antisemitism or an anti-Jewish environment, that’s something I take very seriously, and the chancellor and mayor take very seriously,” First Deputy Chancellor Dan Weisberg told Tova Plaut, an instructional coordinator for pre-K teachers.

Weisberg called Plaut last weekend after The Post’s story that the DOE had refused her request to work remotely from Israel, where she was hunkered down with her daughter’s family.

In a text sent a couple days later, Weisberg did not reverse the DOE’s decision, but said Plaut would not have to use her sick or personal days while in Israel “due to the extraordinary circumstances.” 

Plaut and her 78-year-old mother were visiting family for Sukkot when the Israel-Gaza war erupted, and her Delta flight to return home on Oct. 9 — a city school holiday — was canceled. She booked a flight on El Al to return tonight.

The DOE conceded that Tova Plaut will not have to use any sick or personal days for the time she was stranded in Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks.
Courtesy of Tova Plaut

In their phone conversation, Plaut told Weisberg her predicament “speaks to a much larger issue.” 

“There’s a real anti-Jewish climate in our system, and I think that it’s something that really has to be addressed and looked at with open eyes,” she said.

Plaut told Weisberg that none of the top officials in the Division of Early Childhood Education called her after the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks in Israel “to see if I was okay – or if I’m even alive.”

“Only one person from DOE reached out to me, and that was the guy with the Jewish name,” Plaut told The Post.

Tova Plaut
Tova Plaut alleges that no top officials from the Department of Education called to check on her after the Oct. 7th Hamas attacks.
Courtesy of Tova Plaut

When she joined the DOE several years ago, Plaut said, she was eager to join the push for “equity” in city schools, but had to fight her bosses to get a religious accommodation for a schedule allowing her to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

The antisemitism boiled over this week, she said, after one or more teachers at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in Brooklyn walked out of classes with students to join a pro-Palestine rally.

Girls from the school held up signs reading “Please Keep the World Clean” above an illustration of the blue Star of David in a garbage can.

“This is a perfect example of the anti-Jewish culture in our schools,” Plaut said. “A teacher — I’ll repeat that, a teacher — led students out of class and off school grounds with signs that call for the extermination of Jews.” 

Kiri Soares, the school’s principal, did not answer a request for comment.

A DOE spokesman would not say if teachers who took part in the hate-fueled rally faced any discipline for an unauthorized absence.


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