Hidden antisemitism at Mt. Eden High — Community wants accountability

Mt. Eden High School (Sonia Waraich — East Bay Echo)

Hayward students, parents and teachers say they want the school district to do more about a teacher who has been spreading antisemitism at Mt. Eden High School.

A teacher was reportedly using “The Hidden Tyranny: The Issue That Dwarfs All Issues,” a 1984 book that pushes the conspiracy theory that Jewish people control the world, to teach students at Mt. Eden High School. The administration told the educator not to use the book to teach in the future, but community members said that isn’t enough at a Hayward Unified School District board of education meeting last week.

“We were informed today that staff has been directed to not use this material by the district; however, there is no accountability or evidence that this will result in the end of hate speech on our campus,” a Mt. Eden senior said during public comments. “In just one week, multiple students have come forward to share that they are in a learning space in which their teacher performs the Hitler salute.”

Students, teachers and parents said they told the administration about the teacher’s behavior on Dec. 13 and told the school board on Feb. 2. Both have been slow to act.

The principal of Mt. Eden High School did not respond to a request for comment because the school is on break for President’s Week, according to an automatic email reply. However, Peter Bufete, president of the school board, did briefly respond at the past Wednesday’s meeting.

“This board does not stand for anything that has been mentioned tonight,” Bufete said. “That’s not the school district that I want to be part of or on the board of at all. So I think I can reassure you that every member on this board is committed to looking into this and changing that culture. And it’s not something that’s going to change over night.”

A former student said the teacher has been spreading antisemitism in his classes for years and other commenters said the climate issues extend beyond antisemitism at Mt. Eden, pointing to past and current issues with anti-Black racism. Teachers said the lack of leadership up until this point, from the school to the district level, has been concerning.

“It has been two months of students and staff calling for action,” said Annie Mladinich, a social science teacher at Mt. Eden.

Neither the school nor the district provided support to the department as it tried to address the antisemitism, said Heather Eastwood, an English teacher at Mt. Eden.

“They’ve taken no witness statements, even though they said they would,” Eastwood said. “They’ve called in our protesting students in a way that has a chilling effect on their expressing their outrage. They’ve not used their power to teach a repudiation of the antisemitism. I have searched my mind and my heart for any explanation for this disregard, and all I can see is silent complicity.”

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