CUSD, ADL denounce anti-Semitic remarks - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

CUSD, ADL denounce anti-Semitic remarks

November 10th, 2021 development

By Ken Sain
Staff Writer

The Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League is calling for the Chandler Unified School District to act after a woman made an anti-Semitic comment during the Oct. 27 meeting.

“We call upon CUSD to publicly demonstrate — in the strongest possible way — your commitment to fighting antisemitism and all forms of hate,” wrote Marc Krell, the associate regional director of ADL Arizona.

“ADL strongly condemns the use of anti-Semitic tropes and stereotypes to promote antivaccine and anti-CRT views. This hateful rhetoric is dangerous and offensive and has no place in our schools,” he said.

During the time reserved for public comment, Melanie Rettler went on a rant about the COVID-19 vaccines and pharmaceutical companies. She ended the rant with an anti-Semitic reference.

Her remarks did not draw any immediate applause. However, as she collected her belongings and started to leave, Rettler said, “Oh, if you want to call me a hater, go ahead,” several people clapped.

After calling up the next speaker, Board President Barb Mozdzen made a comment.

“I would also like to remind people that there are some things that we as — your comments really need to be related to what the school board can do something about. And this was not something that we can do something about. Please, please have your comments with something that is within our jurisdiction.”

The district issued a statement the following day over the incident signed by interim Superintendent Frank Narducci.

“The CUSD Governing Board and Administration condemns the hate speech that occurred during Wednesday night’s citizens comments segment of the October 27, 2021 Governing Board meeting,” he wrote. “An individual from the greater community made anti-Semitic remarks while addressing the governing board during the Citizens Comments portion of the meeting. The statement is inconsistent with the Vision, Mission and Core Values of the Chandler Unified School District.

We strongly denounce the anti-Semitic statement made.

“All Chandler Unified School District students, staff, and community members deserve to feel safe, respected and valued.

“The district reaffirms its commitment to use its influence as a public educational institution to teach students the value of an inclusive community and give them the tools to engage in our increasingly diverse society.  Chandler Unified School District denounces hate speech at all levels.”

Rettler identified herself as a veterinarian during her comments, which were focused on what she called the dangers of the COVID-19 vaccine and Critical Race Theory. She is among a group of parents who have been regular attendees at the meetings and have focused on criticizing CRT, even though it is not taught in Chandler Unified.

The district also released a statement from the East Valley Jewish Community Center.

“We are also deeply disturbed by comments made at [Wednesday’s] CUSD board session,” wrote Rabbi Michael Beyo, the He’s CEO of the East Valley Jewish Community Center for Holocaust Education.

“The East Valley JCC applauds the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) Governing Board and Administration and Interim Superintendent, Mr. Franklin Narducci, for leading by example and speaking out against the hatred of all people,” Beyo wrote, adding:

“During the public comment period, a resident of the East Valley espoused anti-Semitic tropes. These comments are dangerous and untrue.

“While the East Valley JCC does not issue statements for individual comments from the public, in this case we must speak out. Comments like these are ignorant and hurtful and we are grateful for community partners such as the CUSD who take a strong stand against anti-Semitism.”

Scores of people commented on various social media sites denouncing the comments. Some also critized the way Mozdzen handled the matter. Many were upset that neither she nor any other board member condemned the remark.

However, state law forbids board members from responding to public comments made during the comment portion of a meeting.