Former principal of Arab school wants job back

The founding principal of a Boerum Hill Arab school said she was forced to resign and demanded her job back Tuesday at City Hall.Debbie Almontaser

CITY HALL - The founding principal of a Boerum Hill Arab school said she was forced to resign and demanded her job back Tuesday at City Hall.

Debbie Almontaser left the Khalil Gibran International Academy in August after criticism for her failure to condemn the use of the word "intifada" on T-shirts. The Arabic term is commonly used to refer to the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

The Department of Education hired Danielle Salzberg, a Jewish woman who does not speak Arabic, as interim principal.

Almontaser said she has requested meetings with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to no avail. Two City Council members also said they've been unsuccessful in attempts to meet with the mayor about the issue.

The former principal's supporters accused the DOE of bowing to political pressure and threats from right-wing groups operating in the city. They maintain Almontaser is the only qualified candidate for the position.

A rabbi and pastor, in addition to a Muslim church leader, spoke in support of Almontaser. They said the school and Almontaser both stand for unity.

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