Two teachers at public charter school placed on leave over "lesson on the genocide in Palestine"

Two first-grade teachers at a public charter school located at a Los Angeles-area Jewish synagogue were placed on leave this week over statements about Israel and Gaza they allegedly shared in the classroom and on social media, according to synagogue and school officials.

On Friday, Senior Rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei told KTLA that one of the teachers at Citizens of the World Charter School, which leases classroom space at Adat Ari El Synagogue in Valley Village, described on social media about teaching "a lesson on the genocide in Palestine" to first-graders.

According to a copy of the post provided to The Times by a representative of the charter school, the teacher wrote on Instagram that they "did a lesson on the genocide in Palestine today w my first graders…" In a separate post, the teacher said that "my fav was a kid who was like “What if they just give the land back to Palestine and find somewhere else to live?”

The school said the second teacher also posted about the lesson.

In a statement, Citizens of the World L.A. executive director Melissa Kaplan said the personal social media posts "raised significant concerns, fear, anger, and harm for many" in the charter school and synagogue community, and that the school will coordinate with the Anti-Defamation League on training for school staff.

The school is investigating the exact content of the lesson, a school representative said Saturday. If the teachers are reinstated, they will not return to the Valley Village campus, the representative said.

Neither of the teachers could be reached for comment Saturday.

In addition, the charter school's principal will be taking a two-week leave of absence to focus on "sensitivity training," the school said in a statement. In a statement, the principal apologized for "insensitive questions" she directed to the rabbi about when the synagogue would remove Israeli flags hanging in the courtyard.

The flags have been on display in the courtyard ever since Hamas militants launched an ambush from Gaza on southern Israel on Oct. 7, leaving 1,200 Israelis dead with another 240 taken hostage. In the weeks since, as Israel launched its offensive, more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.