Maryland Principal Praised Student Protesters After Teacher Reported That They Called To ‘Bring Hitler Back’ | Eastern North Carolina Now

Principal gave excused absences for anti-Israel protest, inflating turnout by enticing those who wanted to skip class.

ENCNow
    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the The Daily Wire. The author of this post is Luke Rosiak.

    A Maryland high school principal promoted a "Palestinian" walk-out even after the faculty sponsor of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) warned that students involved allegedly threatened to "bring Hitler back" and "kill the Jews," according to emails obtained by The Daily Wire.

    Though the head of the MSA pleaded with Pamela Krawczel, principal of Paint Branch High School in Maryland's Montgomery County, to condemn the calls to mass murder, Krawczel refused, the emails show.

    "I really don't think that it would be appropriate to send out another email to address the behavior of two students," Krawczel wrote.

    The administration later asked one of the students if he made the alleged remark and he denied it, and they took the word of the student over the teacher and took no further action.

    The records contain no evidence that Krawczel followed Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) "hate-bias" policy, which requires the principal to notify police and make a report to the central office upon receiving a verbal or written report of an allegation.

    The emails show that at 12:52 p.m. on November 10, Krawczel announced the walkout in an email, saying all absences were excused.

    "There was a student-led walkout that took place in front of the school during 4th period. Paint Branch students demonstrated to voice their concerns about the conflict in the Middle East, in support of the Palestinian people. Participation in this demonstration was optional (not mandatory) and was approved by school leadership earlier this morning. Absences due to participation in the walk-out are excused... Paint Branch staff were present to ensure that this was a positive, peaceful, and respectful event. Paint Branch High School supports student-led advocacy," Krawczel wrote.

    Minutes later at 1:11, the faculty sponsor of the MSA, Brooke Meshel, informed the principal that, in reality, the event had included anti-Semitism and calls to violence. "I am proud to have supported these students in their exercise of free speech and gathering the community in support of a cause. However, I did hear one comment from a student saying 'we should bring Hitler back' and another student say 'Kill the Jews'. I would like an additional email stating that such comments are not tolerated... As educators we MUST undo years of teaching of hate against those who were once persecuted for who they were and what they believed. This of course includes the Jews."

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    The principal shrugged off the entreaty. "I really don't think that it would be appropriate to send out another email to address the behavior of two students. We can certainly address the comments made by those two students," Krawczel wrote at 1:24 p.m.

    At 2:15 p.m., after knowing of the alleged calls to genocide, Krawczel wrote an email to all staff praising the organizers as "fantastic," even while acknowledging that the offer of unexcused absences had made it seem like a large number of students supported the cause because many simply wanted to skip class.

    "It was a very eventful week here at PB that ended with a peaceful student-walk out. We estimate that around 500 students participated in this walk-out, some who were committed to the cause and others who had their own reasons for missing class," she wrote.

    Krawczel received two emails from the district headquarters that day on the question of whether she was required to give excused absences to students. The first said it was "best practices" for the principal to tell students what "consequences" there would be for participating in the protest, specifically including an unexcused absence. The second said the school system's rulebook says that "[a]ny walk-out or departure from campus during the instructional day will be treated as an unexcused absence, given the disruptive impact on school operations."

    The principal's post-walkout email to staff, however, said "the students who planned the protest did a fantastic job advocating for their cause, while also advocating for respect for all people."

    By then, Meshel had evidently met with the principal to discuss how anti-Semitic the protest had been, and she seemed shocked that after the discussion, Krawczel sent the positive message. "Forgive me Ms. Krawczel, but I don't see a comment about what we spoke about in your office," she immediately replied.

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    Karwczel doubled down, sending the message praising the protesters for a "fantastic job" to all parents at 3:50 p.m.

    There is little evidence that a vigorous investigation was initiated into the alleged comments, and no students were disciplined. Assistant Principal Tim Bangerd wrote to Meshel at 2:20 p.m., "Thank you very much for sharing your concerns regarding [redacted]. I have spoke [sic] with this student regarding these comments and have collected his written statement. If I am in need of anything else regarding Daniel and this topic, I will be in touch."

    Christopher Cram, a spokesman for MCPS, did not provide The Daily Wire with any evidence that Bangerd had requested more information from Meshel, and would not say whether any steps were taken to identify the student who allegedly said he wanted to kill all Jews.

    "An investigation was conducted and was found that NO student made that statement (or anything like it). The one student Ms. Meshel could identify denied making that statement and there were no corroborating witnesses," he said. He did not respond to a follow-up question about whether it is MCPS policy to take the word of a student over that of a teacher-particularly one who, as faculty sponsor of the MSA, seemingly had little motive to lie.

    Posing a challenge to the students' credibility, the emails indicate that the student president of the MSA made a misrepresentation to the group's own faculty sponsor, telling Meshel the night before that the club was not sponsoring the walkout before others later revealed that "the officers of the MSA here did organize it."

    MCPS' Hate Bias Incident Reporting Procedures require that "whenever a student or staff member makes a verbal or written report of a hate incident to an administrator, administrators must make a verbal report to police, conduct a Behavioral Threat Assessment, and the principal must contact [the Office of School Support and Well-Being]. OSSWB must create an incident report in Synergy and notify Student Welfare and Compliance."

    The public records request showed no such email from Kawczel to OSSWB, and Cram would not say that an incident report existed.

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    Asked why Kawczel praised the protest after being informed of the remark, Cram said it was because "It seemingly didn't occur," even though she praised the event after being informed of the remark but before there was time for an investigation.

    Top district officials such as Assistant Superintendent Lance Dempsey were on site for the protest, and Cram said that none of them reported hearing anti-Semitic comments, even though Meshel reported hearing two and the protest's public Instagram account featured pictures of them standing with signs like "Victory to Palestinian resistance."

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