U.S. panel: N.Y. discriminated against Arab principal


(JTA) — The principal of an Arabic-language public school in New York City was discriminated against, leading to her resignation, a U.S. commission found.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the New York City Department of Education discriminated against Debbie Almontaser "on account of her race, religion and national origin."

Almontaser, known as a moderate Muslim, resigned in 2007 following a furor that erupted after opponents recast her as a jihadist, The New York Times reported last Friday. Critics attempted to her to the distribution of T-shirts reading "Intifada NYC"; then she gained more bad press after she tried to explain the roots of the word intifada. Almontaser said in an interview that the word had taken on different connotations in light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She resigned under pressure from the mayor’s office as well as her colleagues, the newspaper reported.

The Department of Education "succumbed to the very bias that creation of the school was intended to dispel and a small segment of the public succeeded in imposing its prejudices on D.O.E. as an employer," according to a letter issued last week by the EEOC. The commission also found that she had no connection to the distribution of the T-shirts.

Almontaser has demanded reinstatement to her old job, back pay, damages of $300,000 and legal fees, according to The New York Times.

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