Antisemitism at B-CC: UPDATED

Will Swann and Riley Petersen

The B-CC community has been notified today of another alleged antisemitic incident within its community. According to a community letter sent June 14 from B-CC administration, “In the photo [circulating social media], the student is engaging in inappropriate and hateful antisemitic behavior, including posing in a Nazi salute, displaying Nazi symbolism, and using hate speech on a social media platform.” The letter repeatedly condemned the student’s alleged actions. 

The administration has held multiple meetings addressing antisemitism at B-CC. Most recently, administration met with local rabbis and Jewish student in separate meetings. The Tattler was asked not to report on the content of these meetings due to their confidential nature; therefore, we do not refer to meeting notes we obtained. However, we reached out to participants who were willing to share their take-aways from those meetings.*

The meeting with students was held on Friday, June 9, between the B-CC administration, Jewish students, and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), led by JCRC Director of Education Programs and Services, Sara Winkelman.  B-CC did not notify students of this meeting, asking the individual rabbis to communicate the meeting to their congregations.

“I only knew about it a few hours before it happened, and that’s because Ms. Solove showed me the email that Sara Winkelman sent out,” said Charlie Raibman, president of the Jewish Culture Club. Ms. Solove, a Jewish teacher and sponsor of the Tattler, was made aware of the meeting by Lyric Winik, the PTSA president. “I immediately notified my Jewish students,” shared Ms. Solove. 

“When we see a pattern of incidents and complaints like we saw at B-CC, we work to reach out to the school administration to begin working with the school,” said Guila Siegel, associate director for the JCRC, when asked why B-CC held two meetings. “Jewish stakeholders at B-CC, whether parents or students, felt that they didn’t have anyone in the administration who would listen, and so they came to us,” she continued. 

At the meeting with the students, various frustrations were raised concerning the administration’s handling of antisemitism. 

“I think an overall lack of communication between students and admin was something people were really concerned about,” said Jocelyn Akst, a B-CC senior who came back after graduating to attend the meeting.

Restorative Justice and other forms of recourse for antisemitic acts within the school was one of many issues raised in the meeting. Specifically, a student voiced their concern surrounding a staff member who had allegedly made repeated antisemitic remarks towards Jewish students in their class. “Someone who was in that class briefly mentioned that the Restorative Justice circles didn’t solve the problem at all, and they felt the teacher was never disciplined, but Mooney said he could not answer any questions since the case was still open,” Jocelyn shared with the Tattler. Administration told the Tattler that they cannot disclose disciplinary actions regarding staff or students. 

Administrative handling of antisemitism within B-CC came into the spotlight in March of this year when The Tattler published an article about Restorative Justice, exposing the frustrations echoed in the meeting.

“Many concerns were raised amongst parents after the Restorative Justice article and multiple parents reached out to the administration to ask about the school’s process and how students’ concerns were addressed,” Lyric Winik, PTSA President, told Tattler staff. 

In the process of reporting, the Tattler repeatedly defended the validity of the students’ experiences. One point of discussion surrounded video evidence of the incident described by students. “[Administration] said it was heavily edited and not valid. We later obtained that video from the students there, and it was not edited at all,” Katherine Jones, a reporter on the article, shared. In an interview post publication, when asked about administration’s position on the veracity of the video, Dr. Mooney stated that he had seen a video, but did not give further comment.

After pro bono review from a leading defamation law firm, the Tattler sent the article to the B-CC administration as a courtesy for prior review. B-CC administration directed the Tattler to hold the article until the MCPS Office of General Counsel had given the green light.

“It was vital that the article come out because it was a voice for Jewish students who felt victimized,” Jones shared, reflecting on the experience. “Students were not taken seriously and administration second guessed them, and that is why Jewish students flooded to The Tattler and the ADL because they were scared.” 

The JCRC echoed this, with Siegel sharing, “We have heard positive things from students that it was affirming for them that the Tattler was reporting on these issues.” 

In an interview with the Tattler today immediately following the community letter, Dr. Mooney shared his commitment to defending the Jewish community. Although he expressed that the administration “had not had an opportunity to sit down to look at anything for next year…We as a group recognize this is a concern.” 

In addition to another meeting with Jewish students in the fall, Dr. Mooney expressed, “A second goal that we have is [] how we can increase educational opportunities for the whole student body, even taking advantage of a possibility of having a Holocaust survivor come and talk to the student body.”

In an interview with Ms. Sutton post publication of the original article, she shared that she is working with B-CC students on the creation of a Jewish Student Union, in conjunction with No Place for Hate, for the next academic year. They are discussing a possible speaker series, teacher training, inviting Jewish faith leaders for additional meetings with administration, and working with cluster schools to address the growing issue of antisemitism. 

*italics reflect writing/reporting added after the original publication