School system releases findings on East Hamilton Bible controversy

Mother withdrew her Jewish daughter from class after discussion of "how to torture a Jew"

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – The Hamilton County School System has issued a response to the controversy over a Bible class at East Hamilton High.

A parent said she withdrew her daughter from the class because the teacher held a discussion on how to torture a Jew.

The family is Jewish.

The discussion was over the written name of God, which is not spoken aloud by Jews.

The mother says her daughter felt uncomfortable with how the discussion evolved into how to torture Jews.

The teacher denies ever using the phrase “how to torture a Jew.”

The school system issued this statement on their investigation into the matter.

(They are not discussing any action taken by them against the teacher.)


In its efforts to ensure that all students and staff experience a climate of belonging and support,
Hamilton County Schools last week launched a rigorous investigation into a parent complaint
concerning classroom activities involving the Bible History elective course at East Hamilton
Middle School. The investigation was led by counsel and included multiple interviews with the
teacher, students who were in the class at the time referenced, and the parent who raised the
The investigation determined the following concerning the teacher’s alleged use of the word
“torture” during a lesson surrounding the Hebrew name of God on February 2.
 The teacher made a reference to the fact that Jewish people do not say the Hebrew
name of God as represented and, in essence, that to hear or say that word would be a
torturous or difficult experience for them. Some students recalled the discussion while
others did not. None of the students interviewed believed that the teacher was
instructing them on how to torture a Jewish person or that her comments were rooted in
 We cannot conclude that the teacher intended to actually instruct her students about
how to ‘torture’ a Jewish person, and none of the students interviewed who recalled the
comment interpreted it negatively. While it does not appear that the statement was
intended to cause offense, it did. No student should feel singled out or marginalized in
class as a result of a teacher’s instruction.
Additional concerns brought forth by the parent were also investigated, and a review committee
is being formed by the district’s partner to evaluate course content and reference materials.
Hamilton County Schools is committed to restoring a positive learning experience between the
teacher and students. As a District, we will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure all
students feel accepted and supported while receiving the opportunities and access needed to
thrive in our classrooms, and we will continue to support teachers as they learn and grow in
their profession to accomplish that goal

Categories: Chattanooga, Education, Featured, Hamilton County, Local News

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