Hayward Unified School District cuts ties with teacher accused of spreading antisemitic content
The Hayward Unified School District has terminated its relationship with an English teacher, Henry Bens, after allegations of spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and excusing Hitler’s actions. The decision comes after more than 10 months of investigation, during which evidence was presented by concerned students.
- The district has officially removed Mt. Eden High School English teacher Henry Bens from the classroom, following complaints from students and fellow educators.
- An internal investigation found that Bens had taught with antisemitic materials and verbally attacked teachers who spoke up against him.
- Students recorded Bens’ lectures and gathered evidence, including assignments and testimonies from classmates, to support their complaints.
“This decision should have been made a long time ago,” said Ruchita Verma, a recent Mt. Eden graduate and one of the students who first raised concerns about Bens.
– Ruchita Verma
The investigation report revealed that Mr. Bens will not be returning to Mt. Eden High School, but it took 15 more days for the district to finalize his departure.
Why this matters
- The allegations against Bens are particularly concerning given the recent spike in antisemitism across the country.
- In Northern California alone, antisemitic incidents rose by 137% from 2021 to 2022, making it the second-highest state for such events nationwide.
- Actions like these can contribute to the spread of hate and bigotry, endangering the well-being of Jewish students in the community.
“Students were saying, ‘Well, you know, the Holocaust wasn’t even real.’ What my teacher (Bens) is telling us is what we should all look into,” said Verma, referring to the impact of Bens’ teachings.
– Ruchita Verma
Bens’ lessons coincided with an increase in antisemitic content on social media, perpetuated by celebrities like Kanye West and NBA star Kyrie Irving. Bens showed support for an antisemitic documentary film on Instagram, further raising concerns about his views.
- A separate investigation is currently underway to evaluate how the Hayward Unified School District handled the complaints raised against Bens.
- The findings of this investigation are expected to be released in November, almost 10 months after the initial concerns were brought to the district’s attention.
“The district takes all issues of discrimination, including antisemitism, very seriously. Appropriate action has been taken to address the issues related to this case,” stated the Hayward Unified School District in a late Wednesday statement.
– Hayward Unified School District
The district has faced criticism for the delayed response to the complaints against Bens, and students who filed the complaints have been pushing for greater awareness of antisemitism. Although their initially planned antisemitism awareness week was canceled, efforts are being made to improve the overall environment and understanding of these issues.