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Plaintiffs drop lawsuit about bias in history curriculum

Teachers held signs in support of current history curricula during a standout last October. (Photo by Joelle Sugianto)

After ongoing legal battles throughout the past year, the North community hopes to move past accusations of bias against the history curriculum as school begins this September. 

Plaintiffs suing the city dropped their lawsuit this summer. A group of taxpayers had filed the lawsuit against Newton Public School (NPS) officials for failing to remove alleged anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and biased material from North and South history curriculum. The suit had called for the removal of biased material, and for the curriculum to be vetted by a third party appointed by the court. 

The suit was the latest event in a roughly eight-year controversy between NPS and several organizations such as Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) and Education Without Indoctrination (EWI).

Superintendent David Fleishman, who was a defendant in the case, said, “They withdrew their lawsuit voluntarily, and we viewed it as acknowledgment that their claims have no merit as we have maintained all along.”

According to a statement released by NPS, the district found out about the withdrawal of the lawsuit August 14. 

“Before the judge was able to issue a ruling, a definitive ruling, they pulled their complaint,” said School Committee chair Ruth Goldman, another defendant in the case. “We really don’t know why.” 

The NPS statement said, “with the lawsuit behind us, we are ready to move forward together and begin another successful school year.”

Goldman added that the lawsuit impacted teachers, staff, students, and their ability to teach and learn.

 “I know that some of them had expressed it was an uncomfortable feeling,” she said. “It’s very unusual for a complaint to be filed in that kind of capacity.”

Last school year multiple history teachers at both North and South missed school in order to fill out public record requests filed by the APT and other organizations.

The plaintiffs were Newton taxpayers Alan Dechter, Leon Kadis, Merry Smith, Traute Marshall, Rebecca Katz, and George Flesh. According to Karen Hurvitz, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, all the plaintiffs have had children who attended NPS in the past.

Hurvitz did not respond to a request for comment.

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