Nearly 1,800 sign petition supporting pro-Palestinian NYC principal

Nearly 1,800 people — including city teachers and staffers — signed a petition in support of a Brooklyn principal under fire for urging her staff to seek government sanctions against Israel, an organizer said Tuesday.

In the petition, the signers say that they’re “deeply concerned” over “threats of censure” against MS 136 Principal Amanda Bueno and that they “want leaders like Principal Bueno in our schools educating our children.”

“She is encouraging teachers, and by extension, her school, to be engaged with what is happening in the world, and to speak out against systemic human rights abuses, whether in the movement against Anti-Asian hate, the Movement for Black Lives, or solidarity with Palestinians,” the petition says.

Organizer Lisa Raymond-Tolan, an MS 136 parent and school-based occupational therapist, said the petition was sent Tuesday to schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter.

Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter greets students arriving at Phyl's Academy, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter was not pleased with Bueno’s actions.
Mark Lennihan/AP

On Saturday, Porter publicly demanded that Bueno “apologize” after The Post exclusively revealed a Wednesday email that Bueno sent to MS 136 teachers and administrators that said, “You can take action today by protesting, attending a vigil, making a public commitment to Palestinian Liberation, signing a petition, or calling your government officials to place sanctions on Isreal (sic).”

“This was a clear exercise of poor judgment & we will take appropriate follow-up action. We must teach complex current events without bringing our political activities or beliefs into the classroom,” Porter wrote on Twitter


About four hours after Porter’s tweet, Bueno sent a private email to staffers that said, “I want to apologize for using school email to strongly communicate my personal views and not being as inclusive and mindful of other perspectives as I could have been.”

The people who signed Tuesday’s petition are “parents, teachers, staff and students in the NYC school system,” it says.

Amanda Bueno used her school email to weigh in on the Israel-Palestine situation.
Amanda Bueno used her school email to weigh in on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
NYC Department of Education

The petition also says Bueno was engaging in “the anti-racist education to which the [Department of Education] has made a commitment.”

It quotes a passage from a DOE webpage on “Race and Equity” that says, “Accountability is reflecting, understanding biases, prioritizing learning and educating oneself, engaging in conversations with young people, community members, family, and colleagues about race, racism, and racial violence, listening, unpacking the root causes of our current state, and most importantly, taking action against racial injustice.”


Raymond-Tolan, who identified herself as Jewish, said she got involved because she didn’t think Bueno’s email “intended to be one-sided,” adding, “I want there to be a balanced conversation where all sides are represented and have their voices heard.”

People from all five boroughs signed the petition, with more than 50 percent from Brooklyn, she said.

The largest portion, 42 percent, are parents of children in the school system and 17 percent are teachers, she said.

A DOE spokesman said Tuesday, “We encourage school leaders to support their staff in creating anti-racist communities and pedagogy, but no DOE employee can use DOE resources to encourage staff to take political action.”

Bueno is the principal at Charles O. Dewey Middle School in Brooklyn.
Bueno is the principal at Charles O. Dewey Middle School in Brooklyn.
Google Maps