Press Release: Oct. 15

Press Advisory

Debbie Almontaser, Founding Principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, Speaks Out for the First Time

Parents, officials, and community leaders demand accountability and investigation

New York City, October 15,2007— Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) founding Principal Debbie Almontaser will speak publicly for the first time on October 16th at City Hall at 5pm. This is the deadline to reapply for the principal’s position. She will address her original vision for KGIA and her experience as the target of a campaign of smears and misrepresentation.

Debbie Almontaser will be joined at the press conference by some of the parents, public officials, rabbis, and other community supporters who, over the last two months, have come together to demand that the DOE support KGIA by defending the school against a concerted anti-Arab/anti-Muslim campaign and by inviting its founding principal to return so that she can help translate her creative vision into a strong dual language educational program.

Although New Yorkers of all religious, ethnic and political backgrounds have shown support for Debbie Almontaser, some of our current NYC leadership aren’t listening. Do some voices matter more than others? Over a month ago, Debbie Almontaser requested meetings with Mayor Bloomberg and with Chancellor Klein, but neither has responded. City Council members Robert Jackson and John Liu have written to re-quest a meeting with the mayor regarding this issue, but have yet to get a response. Why and what are the Mayor and the Chancellor hiding? Why have some New York officials been unwilling to stand up to the poli-tics of fear?

Today the Communities In Support of Khalil International Academy (CISKGIA) reaffirms its call for an in-vestigation into the series of decisions that led to the forced resignation of Principal Debbie Almontaser. What role did the Mayor’s Office play, and what role did the DOE play?

Attacks upon Debbie Almontaser and KGIA fit into a larger pattern of recent right-wing attacks on public schools and universities. In late October, for example, one such campaign, entitled “Islamofascism Week,” will—on campuses nationwide, including New York City—foster anti-Muslim stereotypes and whip up fear and hatred of Muslims and Arabs. It is time to stop pandering both to extreme voices and to those who speak in more moderate tones, but both reveal and support bias against Arabs and Muslims. It is time to listen in-stead to voices, like Debbie Almontaser’s, that seek not to divide, but to unite, by teaching students—and all New Yorkers—to learn from and respect our differences.

Tuesday, October 16, at 5:00 P.M. at City Hall

Speakers will Include:

  • Debbie Almontaser, joined by her Attorney Alan Levine
  • KGIA Parents
  • Councilman John Liu
  • Reverend Clinton Miller
  • Other officials TBA
  • Rabbis and Imams TBA

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