City officials are investigating a Queens high school after students protested against a Jewish teacher who attended a pro-Israel rally, forcing school officials to move the teacher to another part of the building for her protection, the New York Times reported.
Video footage of the incident went viral on social media, prompting the New York Post and other right-leaning outlets to report that the teacher had been hidden in a locked office.
Hillcrest High School Chancellor David Banks described the November 20 protest as “completely unacceptable” and said the teacher was targeted for “expressing her Jewish identity.”
However, at a press conference on Monday, November 27, Chancellor Banks criticized the “rumors and misinformation” that had been reported about the November 20 incident.
Banks disputed the New York Post report, saying that the teacher had never been in any “direct danger,” nor was she barricaded inside a locked room. Instead, she was simply moved to a different floor after the student protest began.
Banks, who attended Hillcrest High School in the 70s, told reporters that hate, violence, and disorder “have no place in our schools.” At the same time, he urged for some understanding for the students, explaining that the war in Gaza has been a “very visceral and emotional issue” at the school where 30 percent of its student body is Muslim.
Banks explained that the Muslim students at Hillcrest “feel a kindred spirit” with the “Palestinian community.” He took issue with the New York Post and city officials who described the students as “radicalized,” saying the use of the word was irresponsible.
Within hours of the incident being reported, New York City Mayor Eric Adams condemned the student protesters and described the incident as a “vile show of antisemitism.”
Queens district attorney Melina Katz, a graduate of Hillcrest High School, said in a post on X that she was angry and heartbroken that the students were “using violence” as a way to silence those who support Israel.
New York City Republican Councilwoman Vickie Paladino posted a video showing the student protesters attacking a school safety officer and accused Hillcrest administrators of trying to cover up a riot. Paladino called for the school to be “shut down pending a full and thorough investigation.”