In order to provide more meaningful Holocaust education in local schools, and fulfill the state of Florida mandate for Holocaust education in public schools, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County initiated a meeting on July 29, 2019 with leadership representing the Palm Beach County School District. Federation, its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and The Gross Family Center for the Study of Antisemitism and the Holocaust represented an assembly of 13 Jewish organizations and a consortium of 35 organizations invested in Holocaust education.

School District officials were highly receptive and welcoming to the collaboration, resources and expertise offered by Federation, as well as Federation’s partnering organizations and agreed to the following recommendations about its Holocaust education procedures and curriculum:
• Demonstrate a clear commitment to the full implementation of the state’s Holocaust education mandate;
• Training for principals and administrators about Holocaust education and antisemitism;
• Formation of a joint task force, under the auspices of Jewish Federation, to monitor the school district’s implementation of the mandate.

In addition to the ongoing discussions taking place between the school district and Federation representatives, Federation initiated this particular meeting after the controversial statements made by the now-former principal of Spanish River High School in Boca Raton in regards to Holocaust education in Palm Beach County schools.

Over the past two years, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County and The Gross Family Center for the Study of Antisemitism and the Holocaust have convened a consortium of 35 local and national Jewish and non-Jewish organizations committed to Holocaust education. This consortium has been working with representatives of the School District to ensure that all students, teachers and administrators in Palm Beach County are upholding Florida’s Holocaust education mandate.

The following School District leaders attended the meeting: Frank Barbieri, School board president; Edward Tierney, Chief of Staff of Superintendent; Keith Oswald, Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Schools; Glenda Sheffield, Chief Academic Officer; Diana Fedderman, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning; and Maureen Carter, K-12 Holocaust Studies Program Planner.

The following local and national Jewish community leaders also attended the meeting: Ira M. Gerstein, Federation Board Chair; Lynn Peseckis, chair of JCRC’s Antisemitism and Bigotry Task Force; Michael Hoffman, Federation President & CEO; Josephine Gon, Vice President of JCRC; Charles Hagy, Board member and Co-Chair of the Education Committee of the Palm Beach Fellowship of Christians and Jews; Laurence Milstein, Director of AJC Palm Beach; and Sheri Zvi, Regional Director of ADL Florida.