The controversy surrounding Siriana Abboud, a teacher at PS 59 in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, persists despite concerns about her pro-Hamas messaging to preschoolers. The New York Post’s Susan Edelman initially reported the teacher’s alleged promotion of an anti-Israel agenda and sharing of indoctrination tips. Abboud’s Allusio Academy preschool program raised eyebrows for seemingly drawing from a Hamas pre-K curriculum guide. On her Instagram page, she featured content supporting Palestine, offering skewed teachings on its history, Zionism, European colonialism, and “orientalism,” along with guidance on child advocacy for Palestine.
Despite parental complaints and calls for an investigation, Abboud remains on indefinite “medical leave,” prompting speculation about the Department of Education’s strategy to weather the storm. The intricate process of disciplining or firing tenured teachers in New York City, often prolonged by union-driven arbitration rules, contributes to the challenges in addressing such cases. Abboud had faced prior issues, including placing an antisemitic poster on a bulletin board in October 2022. While the response was limited to its removal and a single “restorative justice” session, Abboud was later honored with the 2023-24 Big Apple Award by the Department of Education.
This recognition praised her as a “liberation-inspired educator” who “centers children’s agency and global consciousness” and elevates “societal expectations” for young children. The dissonance between official acclaim and the current controversy has raised questions about the Department of Education’s handling of such matters. The situation underscores the challenges in holding educators accountable for alleged misconduct, particularly when dealing with contentious issues. The lack of swift action in response to parental concerns may contribute to dissatisfaction among middle- and working-class families, potentially prompting some to seek alternatives outside the Department of Education’s schools.