Owens to K-12 Administrators: “Every day in these classrooms is a bad day for our kids”

WASHINGTON — Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chair Burgess Owens (UT-04) today participated in an Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee hearing titled “Confronting Pervasive Antisemitism in K-12 Schools.” 

Before the hearing, Rep. Owens spoke at a press conference with Parents Defending Education President Nicki Neily, Education and the Workforce Committee Chair Dr. Virginia Foxx, Subcommittee Chair Aaron Bean, and Rep. Tim Walberg to discuss pervasive antisemitism in K-12 schools.

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During the hearing, Rep. Owens focused on administrators’ lack of action in response to incidents of antisemitism in the Montgomery County School District and the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD).

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Rep. Owens questioned BUSD Superintendent Ms. Enikia Ford Morthel about disciplinary actions for teachers who promote antisemitism.

Rep. Owens: “I’m just trying to understand how this works, when you have teachers that are teaching hate to our kids and showing it, and our students are feeling fearful for this, are they fired or are they just transferred to another school? It appears that they’re just moving to another place.”

Ms. Morthel: “If we have a concern or a complaint about antisemitism or any form of hate, we take it very seriously. We investigate and we take action pending the outcome of that investigation.” 

Rep. Owens: “So I guess the action is not firing, it’s just moving them someplace [else]. The word of action is very subjective, obviously.”

Rep. Owens also questioned Ms. Karla Silvestre, President of the Montgomery County Board of Education, about reports that teachers were moved to a new school after allegations of antisemitic behavior.

Rep. Owens: “How is this working out? Do we have a process in which you can actually get bad teachers out of the classroom? Bad administrators that are teaching our kids to hate like this, are we addressing that at all?”

Ms. Silvestre: “In all of those cases, the teachers were put on leave so that we could do a thorough investigation, disciplinary action was taken.” 

Rep. Owens: “I guess I’m just concerned. We want results. We want discipline. We see what’s happening to our kids, and we’ve not taken out the cancer which these teachers coming in and administrators that are pushing down their hate. Every day in these classrooms is a bad day for our kids. So, are we getting rid of any of these people or is it just taking other actions?”

Ms. Silvestre: “Disciplinary action has been taken on all of those cases.”

Rep. Owens: “Okay, but they’re not being fired?” 

Ms. Silvestre: “They understand any other further action will lead up to termination.”


  • Four Montgomery County Public Schools teachers who were placed on administrative leave for antisemitic conduct have returned to teaching in Montgomery County at different schools.
  • The Brandeis Center and the Anti-Defamation League have expanded their complaint against Berkeley Unified School District with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. In the complaint, they detail several antisemitic incidents and allege that complaints about antisemitism from teachers have not been addressed by school district administrators.
  • The complaint also alleges that the BUSD has “chosen to disrupt the Jewish students’ learning by moving them into new classes, further ostracizing and marginalizing them from their peers and normalizing anti-Semitic behavior.”
  • On May 7th, 2024, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it is opening a formal investigation into the complaint.


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