French teacher suspended over Shoah lessons

PARIS (JTA) — A French high school teacher was suspended for spending too much class time on the Holocaust.

History teacher Catherine Pederzoli, 58, was suspended for four months after inspectors reported that she spent too much time teaching the Holocaust and organizing school trips to former concentration camps in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The district’s general inspection report for the Henri-Loritz public high school in the northeastern French town of Nancy said Pederzoli “lacked obligations for reserve, neutrality, and secularism,” and “exploited students” by “brainwashing.” Her focus on the subject of the Holocaust and planning trips to concentration camps took time away from teaching other subjects, according to the report.

Pederzoli’s lawyer, Christine Tadic, filed a complaint Tuesday to block the school district’s decision, and told the French media her client is the victim of anti-Semitism.

“Isn’t the fault this teacher committed is that she is Jewish?” Tadic told the French news agency AFP.

District authorities requested an inspection into Pederzoli’s teaching practices following a protest by her students, who demanded that the number of people allowed to participate in school trips to concentration camps not be reduced as planned by school authorities, according to French reports.

The inspectors criticized Pederzoli in their report for using the word “Shoah” 14 times, “whereas the term that is both neutral and judicially sound, ‘genocide,’ was only mentioned twice, as if in passing.” AFP obtained the report.

The school district for the towns of Nancy and Metz based their decision to suspend the teacher on the report, but claimed in a statement Tuesday that the suspension “had no relation to the subject of teaching history and the memory of the Shoah, to which national education is very attached.”

The district requested the inspection into Pederzoli’s teaching practice “following a certain number of dysfunctions” with the way school trips to concentration camps were organized, said the statement.

Pederzoli will continue receiving her monthly salary while on suspension.
 

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