PALESTINE DOES EXIST was the message at the 12/12/2023 City Schools of Decatur School Board Meeting.
Parents, neighbors, and friends filled the boardroom of the City Schools of Decatur (GA). Speaker after speaker voiced concerns that this school district was ignoring the Palestinian members of the community while bragging about the equity and equality programs in the school. The school also has developed a mock Arab council and has refused to include a representative from Palestine on the council. A parent on the phone objected to any mention of Palestine by saying, will allowing Palestine discussion into classrooms also allow the “flat earthers” discussions in the classroom.
A parent of Palestinian heritage said, “How do you honor us by ignoring us.” Another parent complained that you allow “We Stand With Israel” posters in the classroom but no discussion can be had about Palestine. Each speaker reiterated to the board that Palestine exists and must be recognized in this school. The last speaker, Attorney Mawuli Davis, was disturbed at the silencing of (Palestinian) voices that he was witnessing.
The Equity Coordinator, Anthony Downer was suspended earlier this month because he proposed a Palestinian lesson plan for the school. A news article in the Decaturish News, December 7, 2023, Investigation finds Decatur Schools equity coordinator’s email about Israel and Gaza violated district policies, Anthony Downer presented resource material for teachers in the district about the Palestine/Israel conflict and some of the staff objected. According to the Decaturish news story, “District leaders at the time called the email “insensitive and inappropriate.” It created an uproar in the Decatur community. The investigation shows that leaders began immediately investigating the incident and conducting interviews with Downer, his supervisor and other CSD employees.” His email has been interpreted as injecting his personal beliefs into the school – a conflict of interest. The school deemed this as a conflict of interest but gave no clear explanation of how teaching about current events was a conflict of interest.