Dear Dr. Wayne
We have learned that a local organization, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), is encouraging a national student "Walk Out for Gaza" protest against Israel.
We are extremely concerned by this action, the messaging, and its impact on Jewish students' safety and sense of belonging.
This event is particularly concerning because AROC, an organization that frequently organizes
protests and boycotts of Israel, announced a rally the day after the terrorist attack in Israel, saying “Palestine is rising! Gaza is rising”. At the protest, activists praised the terrorists involved in the attacks as “martyrs” and “resisters.”
This open support for the murder, assault and kidnapping of Israeli civilians has added to the trauma our community is feeling.
Jewish families, who have spent the last 10 days mourning the brutal murders and kidnappings that Hamas inflicted against Jews in Israel, need your leadership and support to ensure our students are and feel safe, secure and respected at school.
Here are the quotes from SFUSD's own policy (copied from SFUSD website)
“District staff are not permitted to organize, recruit, direct, or control students' off-campus expression. This includes promoting or endorsing that students participate in any specific student demonstration, distribution of materials of a political nature, sit-in, or walk-out. Staff may, upon receiving permission from their school site administrator, attend an off-campus protest with students in a supervisory, non-participatory capacity.”
“Student safety is a top priority. When students leave our campuses, we are no longer able to ensure student safety. For this reason, when a school or the district learns about a planned walkout or any instance where groups of students might be departing campus, SFUSD staff will work closely with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to monitor the safety of our students if they travel away from district property and out of our care. Through this coordinated effort, we are more able to support student safety as they exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Our Jewish students and families are vulnerable, and need to know that we belong here.
We ask that steps be taken to ensure that :
- All students, including Jewish students, are safe and able to learn in the classroom on Wednesday and beyond.
- Teachers and staff are not using the classroom to share their personal viewpoints, but to create educational environments free from bias.
- Staff and teachers are not participating in or promoting the walk out.
- Students do not feel pressure or encouragement from adults at school to support the walk out.
- All students, including Jewish students, have safe spaces to share their feelings and fears; learn; and connect with peers with a priority on finding common ground and seeing the humanity in each of us.
- Adults in schools have resources to support students with varying perspectives and avoid exacerbating unwanted community tension.
- SFUSD’s commitment to promoting belonging regardless of nationality, ethnicity, religion or political belief - includes our Jewish students.
At a moment of fear and mourning, we are depending on your leadership to set the tone that Jewish families are welcome at SFUSD, and that our children can continue to learn safely within our schools.
We would like to schedule a meeting in the coming weeks with you, local Jewish leaders, parent representatives and other leaders to work together for concrete ways to affirm the district’s commitment to combating antisemitism and promoting inclusivity of our Jewish students.