First-grade teachers in LA suspended and now under investigation after giving students a lesson about the 'genocide in Palestine'

Classroom in a kindergarten school, yellow furniture and tables and blue floor.
A charter school in California suspended a teacher who said he gave first graders a lesson about "genocide in Palestine."Mint Images/Getty Images
  • California teachers suspended after giving first graders a lesson on "genocide in Palestine."

  • Citizens of the World Charter School hosts its classes at a local synagogue.

  • The school's principal is also taking a two-week leave to undergo sensitivity training.

A charter school in Los Angeles with classes inside a Jewish synagogue is investigating two teachers who posted online about giving lessons to first graders on the "genocide in Palestine."

Citizens of the World Charter School announced on Friday that it had suspended both teachers due to the lesson and other points of conflict, according to KTLA, a television station in Los Angeles.

Executive director Melissa Kaplan said in a statement that the school "unequivocally condemns" the teachers' social media posts about the lesson, including the use of "genocide" to describe Israel's response to Hamas' October 7 attacks.

Adat Ari El Synagogue senior rabbi Brian Schuldenfrei said at a news conference that the synagogue hung Israeli flags around its building — where the school holds classes — after Hamas launched attacks inside Israel, KTLA reported.

Schuldenfrei said he became aware of the lesson after the school's principal emailed him asking if the synagogue could take down the flags, the report says.

"After the lesson, one of the teachers proudly shared on Instagram, and I quote, 'LOL but I did a lesson on the genocide in Palestine today w my first graders,'" Schuldenfrei said. "The teacher went on to boast: 'My fav was a kid who was like 'What if they just gave the land back to Palestine and find somewhere else to live."

Citizens of the World did not immediately return a request for comment from Insider, but the school told The Los Angeles Times that it is still investigating the content of the lesson, and if the teachers are reinstated, they will work at a different campus.

Principal Hye-Won Gehring is also taking a two-week leave to undergo sensitivity training, according to The Times.

The war between Israel and Hamas has become a controversial topic in schools and colleges in the United States since the Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 people.

In response, Israel launched air attacks and a ground invasion in Gaza that have so far killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, thousands of whom are believed to be children, according to the Hamas-led Palestinian Health Ministry.

A growing pro-Palestinian movement in the United States has been met with resistance at schools and colleges around the country.

On October 18, billionaire hedge fund manager Clifford Asness joined a chorus of megadonors who have pulled funding from the University of Pennsylvania for holding its Palestine Writes Literary Festival, which he described as an "antisemitic Burning Man."

Omega Advisors CEO Leon Cooperman, who has given more than $25 million to Columbia University, also threatened to pull his funding for the university if it does not publicly support Israel.

Cooperman's comments followed a walkout at Columbia on October 11, when students left their classes to support Palestinians facing worsening violence in Gaza.

Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, meanwhile, has pressured Harvard to suspend students for both antisemitic and pro-Palestinian actions on campus.

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