NYACK, N.Y. -- For the second time in recent weeks, a Rockland County District has removed a video teaching tool from a social studies class that depicts Jews in a derogatory light.
Nyack Schools Superintendent James Montesano on Tuesday informed district parents via email that sixth-grade students at the middle school had viewed two videos in mid December that "displayed historically inaccurate information and misrepresentation of the nature of Judaism."
The videos were made available to students as an optional classroom resource in a unit of study designed to teach students the principles of religious freedom.
Administrators and teaching staff met on Monday with representatives of the Jewish Federation of Rockland County, the Anti-Defamation League, Rabbi Ariel Russo of Congregation Sons of Israel and Rabbi Reuben Modek of Hebrew Learning Circles.
This latest incident comes on the heels of an uproar over a video shown at Clarkstown South High School that portrayed Jews as aggressors, as warriors, and as callous members of society during the Roman era.
The incident garnered criticism from Rockland's Jewish leaders and from the Anti-Defamation League in New York City.
In a letter of apology, Principal Debra Tarantino wrote “The video depicted Judaism in a demeaning and historically inaccurate way. Although this was not the intent of the teacher in designing the lesson, my administrative team agrees the choice to show this video was inappropriate.”
Montesano said the video shown in Nyack was not the same one Clarkstown students viewed. To parents he wrote, "Nyack Board of Education, administrators, and teachers extend our deepest apologies to our students, families and community."
He said he is trying to have the videos removed from the company's offerings.
"We will continue the work of developing our curricula and vetting supporting services," said Montesano.
Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski on Wednesday sent a letter directly to study.com, asking the company to review its content for accuracy and appropriateness. "Broad, inaccurate and insensitive generalizations should not be anywhere near a classroom. Until study.com engages in this type of review, I call on all New York School Districts to cease utilizing this resource. In addition, proper protocols must be installed by our districts to ensure accuracy and appropriateness of outside material.”
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