• thawra abukhdeir

Violation of a Teacher’s Freedom of Expression for Partaking in a Protest

Protest by ACRI's Tal Dahan

An Arab teacher at an elementary school in Lod participated in a protest held in the city to mark one year since the death of a Lod resident during the May 2021 riots. Thereafter, he was summoned to be questioned by a Ministry of Education supervisor, until which time the school prohibited him from entering his classroom. The principal even reported this to parents at the school and the mayor.

We appealed to the Director General of the Ministry of Education and the Director of its Central District to immediately cancel the meeting scheduled to question the teacher, and to reinforce guidelines regarding teachers’ freedom of expression and the right to participate in demonstrations and protests among all school principals and Ministry of Education supervisors. In the appeal, Attorney Tal Hassin emphasized that teachers are allowed to participate in demonstrations, protests, rallies, and marches.

The appeal noted that "the WhatsApp [text message] that was sent to the parents, the unnecessary notification by the mayor, banning the teacher from instructing, and appealing to the supervisor – indicate complete madness in the school system and the principal’s submission to populist attitudes while gravely violating the teacher’s dignity, privacy, and right to freedom of expression and occupation,” noted the appeal. Even more grave than the supervisor’s conduct, who scheduled a meeting with the teacher with an entirely unclear objective rather than stopping the witch-hunt and explaining to the principal that teachers’ participation in demonstrations is perfectly legal, only further contributed to the web of humiliation he experienced [...] the principal proved, once again, that teachers’ concern regarding the system whenever they engage in critical discourse or socio-political action is justified.”

Following a meeting with the supervisor, the teacher returned to work, and the Ministry of Education noted that his actions were not inappropriate.