From The New York Times: The founding principal of New York City's only Arabic-language public school will not sue the city, despite a ruling from a federal commission that the school system discriminated against her by forcing her to resign in 2007. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had found that in forcing Debbie Almontaser to resign from her post at Khalil Gibran School, the city's education department "succumbed to the very bias that creation of the school was intended to dispel. Almontaser says that going through a lawsuit that could take years would not be worth it. She remains with the school system helping coordinate after-school activities, but she is earning about $71,000, about $50,000 less than she did as principal.

APRIL 2008: Debbie Almontaser dreamed of starting a public school like no other in New York City. Children of Arab descent would join students of other ethnicities, learning Arabic together. Things have not gone according to plan. Only one-fifth of the 60 students at the Khalil Gibran International Academy are Arab-American. Since the school opened in Brooklyn last fall, children have been suspended for carrying weapons, repeatedly gotten into fights and taunted an Arabic teacher by calling her a “terrorist,” staff members and students say. The school’s creation provoked a controversy so incendiary that Almontaser stepped down as the founding principal just weeks before classes began last September. Almontaser, a teacher by training and an activist who had carefully built ties with Christians and Jews, says she was forced to resign by the mayor’s office following a campaign that pitted her against a chorus of critics who contended that she had a militant Islamic agenda.

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FROM JANUARY 2008: The New York City Education Department has named an educator with a “working knowledge” of Arabic as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the embattled Brooklyn school whose founding principal resigned under pressure after being quoted as defending the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan. The new principal, Holly Anne Reichert, 42, has worked in the city public schools for more than nine years. She also has had stints as a Peace Corps volunteer in Yemen, as a teaching fellow at the American University in Cairo, and as head of the English department at an English-Arabic dual language school in Bahrain.
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FROM DECEMBER 2007: A judge has ruled against the claim of the founding principal of New York City’s first Arabic-themed school that her right to free speech was violated when she was forced out during a furor over comments she made in a newspaper interview. In a preliminary finding, Judge Sidney H. Stein ruled against Debbie Almontaser, who had been principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn. Almontaser contends that city officials violated her First Amendment rights by pressuring her to step down after discussing the history of the word “intifada” during an August interview. She had been criticized for not condemning the use of the word on a T-shirt.
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EARLIER: The founding principal of New York City’s first Arabic-language school says the Bloomberg administration forced her to resign in August by threatening to shut the school. She is applying to get the job back. In her first detailed public account of what led her to step down after defending the word “intifada” on a T-shirt, the principal, Debbie Almontaser, presented herself as the victim of an anti-Arab “smear campaign” from conservative newspapers and blogs and of pressure from city officials.
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About 200 demonstrators gathered in front of the headquarters of the New York City’s Department of Education to voice their support for the beleaguered Khalil Gibran International Academy. Many of them called for the reinstatement of the school’s founding principal, who resigned under pressure this month after she defended the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan.
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New York City
school officials decided to start an Arabic-themed school because it seemed right for the times. But the school has run into the treacherous ethnic and ideological political currents of New York and plagued by poor planning, inadequate support for the principal and relentless criticism from some quarters of the news media.
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An education official experienced in starting new schools in New York City, but not in speaking Arabic, will take over immediately as the interim acting principal of the city’s first public school dedicated to the study of Arabic language and culture. The official, Danielle Salzberg, 35, a senior program officer at the nonprofit group New Visions for Public Schools, will replace Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of the school, the Khalil Gibran International Academy. Ms. Almontaser resigned under pressure last week. ( New York Times)

The principal of New York City’s first public school dedicated to the study of Arabic language and culture has resigned under pressure, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan. Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, stepped down as the principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that is to open this fall in Brooklyn. (New York Times)

New York City has found a temporary site for the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public school devoted to the study of Arabic language and culture that is scheduled to open in September. The school will be put in a Brooklyn building that houses the Brooklyn High School of the Arts and the Math and Science Exploratory School, a middle school. Last Friday, the department canceled plans to place Khalil Gibran in the same building as Public School 282, an elementary school in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Some parents at P.S. 282 objected to sharing the space. (New York Times)

The Khalil Gibran International Academy was conceived as a public embrace of New York City’s growing Arab population and of internationalism, the first public school dedicated to the study of the Arabic language and culture and open to students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. But nearly three months after plans for the middle school were first announced, the school system is fending off attacks from parents from Public School 282, the elementary school in Brooklyn that is to share building space with the Khalil Gibran school, and a handful of columnists who have called the proposed academy a madrassa, which teaches the Koran. (New York Times)