From NYU to UCLA Educators Rally around Debbie Almontaser
New York, April 2nd, 2008 – Today, a group of leading educators from across the nation delivered an open letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein urging them to reinstate Debbie Almontaser to the post of principal at the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), the dual language public school that she envisioned and designed. Before the school opened its doors, Ms. Almontaser was forced to resign as a result of a race-based campaign orchestrated by opponents of the school.
In their letter the educators state that Ms. Almontaser is “a respected educator and community leader” who “was the guiding light and the pioneer behind the founding of the new school, which was envisioned as part of a vibrant small-schools movement fostering personalization, autonomy, and the empowerment of teachers…When Debbie Almontaser was forced out as principal of KGIA,” they note, “a blow was struck against the rights and academic freedom of educators everywhere.”
In calling for her to be restored to the position of KGIA principal, the educators are uncompromising in their concern about the implications of permitting intolerance to shape public education: “For those of us working in the field of education, the treatment of Debbie Almontaser represents a threat not only to our rights as educators and citizens in a democratic society; it is also an attack on the small-schools movement and on the push for diversity and equity within our system of public education. Will bigotry be allowed to decide which public schools can exist and who can lead them?”
Ms. Almontaser has filed a lawsuit against the City and the Department of Education, charging them with discrimination and violation of her First Amendment rights. A trial date has not been set.
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