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The Monarch Times

Report Finds Failed Response to Antisemitism

On November 1, 2023, an independent organization found that both Hayward Unified School District administrators and Mt. Eden administrators improperly responded to former Mt. Eden teacher Henry Bens’ antisemitic teachings. Bens gave a pamphlet to his students titled “The Hidden Tyranny,” which promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories.

The organization’s report revealed that three Mt. Eden administrators did not interview students, observe Bens’ classes, or read his instructional materials to investigate the situation. District employees had been aware of Bens’ antisemitic teachings since December 2022, but failed to act until February 2023.  

The investigation also found that administrators verbally mistreated Ruchita Verma, a Mt. Eden graduate. Verma unsuccessfully attempted to organize an antisemitism awareness week alongside several other students. The report states that an administrator claimed she was antisemitic and did not care about Jewish people. The Monarch Times contacted Principal Monique Walton for an interview through email on November 13 with no response.

However, another finding of the report stated that Mt. Eden’s district administrators did attempt to address antisemitism on campus after Bens’ removal by inviting the Anti-Defamation League to provide self-study lessons to students and organizing a restorative justice circle on Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Some staff expressed disagreements with the findings, believing that Mt. Eden’s administration could have done more to counter antisemitism. They argue that Mt. Eden’s attempts to challenge hate were overly broad and that they should have taken action to address antisemitism specifically.

Verma expressed similar disagreements: “You can’t address antisemitism by saying that all cultures matter, that’s taking away from recognizing antisemitism, which, to this day, is still the very clear harm.”

Steven Elliott, a Mt. Eden teacher, elaborated on how Mt. Eden’s approach to tackling antisemitism on campus made him feel excluded as a Jewish person. “I brought some artifacts from my family on Holocaust Remembrance Day. […] I really wanted to share them but didn’t feel like it was the right place to share them with my students. I feel that as a Jewish person, I don’t feel like I had a space to share what has really impacted me,” said Elliot.

According to Superintendent Dr. Jason Reimann, HUSD is working on embedding Anti-Bias Anti-Racist (ABAR) lessons addressing antisemitism. HUSD now provides training sessions for all staff members around anti-bias and anti-racism. However, Reimann was unable to share the disciplinary actions taken by the district: “…any and all appropriate actions have been taken in response to those findings. We, however, don’t disclose personnel actions publicly because there are privacy rights for all employees.”

Dr. Reimann views the Bens controversy as a reminder to HUSD staff to emphasize anti-bias and anti-racism to prevent any kind of discrimination: “…it’s an ongoing body of work and ongoing struggle. We’ve got to remain diligent and make sure that we’re protecting all students and valuing diversity.”

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About the Contributors
Elisandra Hampton
Elisandra Hampton, Copy Editor, Formatting Editor
My name is Elisandra Hampton and I am the Copy Editor and Formatting Editor of The Monarch Times for the 2023-24 school year. I joined The Monarch Times last year and I am dedicated to writing quality articles. I was born in Hayward, raised in Hayward, and plan to die in Hayward. My hobbies include drawing, reading, and spending hours on Instagram Reels. I hope I can continue creating informative content this year.  
Kaylyn Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief
Hi! I’m Kaylyn Nguyen, founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Monarch Times. I started The Monarch Times to provide a source of information for students and bring the Mt. Eden and Hayward community closer together. Outside of writing, I’m involved in various clubs and enjoy photography, reading, and playing video games. Please look forward to more content from The Monarch Times for years to come!  
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