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Principal at high school in Queens reassigned following antisemitic rampage; local assemblymember welcomes change

Dec. 21, 2023 By Bill Parry

One month after his students went on a violent antisemitic rampage through the hallways of Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, principal Scott Milczewski has been reassigned by the city’s Department of Education.

Hundreds of students were seen on video rioting on Nov. 20 after they discovered a photo of the school’s 9th-grade health teacher on Facebook at a pro-Israel rally. The teacher, who is Jewish, had also changed her social media profile picture to show her support for Israel following the Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 Israelis dead.

In a letter to the Hillcrest High School community, Milczewski announced his departure from the school would take place on Dec. 22 and that he is taking a new position at the Department of Education.

‘It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that I have been offered, and accepted, the position of Director of Teacher Development and Evaluation within the Division of Teaching and Learning,’ Milczewski wrote. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside you in support of our students and will remember and cherish my time as part of the Hillcrest family.”

Assembly Member David Weprin, who represents the district where the school is located, said he was heartened to learn about Milczewski’s departure.

“The recent antisemitic rampage by students that targeted a Jewish educator and escalated into a full-blown riot was an utter disgrace,” Weprin said. “The New York City Department of Education is entrusted with the safety of our students, faculty and staff. Discipline broke down and Hillcrest leadership failed to fulfill this most basic duty.”

The riot was not the only antisemitic incident to have taken place at the school this year.  A swastika was scrawled in red ink on a cafeteria wall earlier this month and there was a similar incident in February.

Weprin and his colleagues rallied outside Department of Education offices in Ozone Park on Nov. 27 to demand greater accountability from the DOE after videos of the rampage went viral on social media.

“Communications to local officials was nonexistent and placed myself and my colleagues in government in the unacceptable position of learning about the incident secondhand and several days after it occurred,” Weprin said. “When I learned of a prior antisemitic incident and another one that occurred after the riot involving the graffiti of a swastika at Hillcrest High School, it was clear that a complete breakdown of discipline and transparency occurred, and I expressed to Chancellor David Banks my complete lack of confidence in the principal and leadership staff at Hillcrest High School.”

The Department of Education declined to comment on the leadership change at Hillcrest, including who has replaced Milczewski. Following the Nov. 27 rally, Weprin joined Banks for a listening session with dozens of Hillcrest students, and he hoped for better communication with the new principal.

“This decision represents a first step in the long road to healing. In the coming days, I look forward to connecting with both the new leadership at Hillcrest High School and continuing my conversations with NYC DOE to learn more about their action plan for addressing the concerns that I and the Jewish community share,” Weprin said. “We must stamp out all forms of antisemitism, hate and bigotry and educate our students to accept one another and stand up for each other.”

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