Ever since she was forced out as the founding principal of an Arabic-language public school in Brooklyn two years ago, Debbie Almontaser has portrayed herself as the victim of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice.
Actually, hard as Almontaser finds it to accept, she just wasn't the right person for the job. Perhaps she'll see the light, thanks to a federal court ruling that didn't view things her way.
Almontaser used the bias claim to bootstrap her way into suing the Education Department for allegedly violating her free-speech rights. But Judge Sidney Stein concluded Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein had not abridged Almontaser's First Amendment protections in forcing her resignation over idiotic statements made in the course of her job.
It's bedrock fact that public employees are not free to say any old thing while performing their duties. They do not have license to make utterances that undermine the roles they are paid to serve, particularly when in positions of authority.
Almontaser created the Khalil Gibran International Academy to fill "a need for education about and creating cultural understanding of the complexity of Arab history and the diversity of Arab culture."
Some feared she sought to promote radical Islamic beliefs. She denied the charge and maintained Klein's full support until she became embroiled in controversy over T-shirts bearing the words "Intifada NYC."
In a published interview, she said the term merely meant "shaking off" rather than "bloody violent uprising," as is commonly understood thanks to the murderous campaign of that name by Palestinians against Israel.
Speaking of teenage girls wearing the shirts, she also said, "I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society ... and shaking off oppression."
Which was beyond inflammatory and destroyed the credibility of her school as politically and socially neutral. She had no right to do that, as Stein made so correctly clear.