Education Minister Shai Piron..
(photo credit: Courtesy Education Ministry )
High School teacher Adam Verta, who earlier this year was threatened with dismissal following a student complaint that he expressed “extreme-left” views and “incitement against the IDF,” was informed on Sunday that the school was terminating his employment next year due to budgetary cutbacks.
Verta, who taught Jewish Thought part time at the ORT Greenberg high school in Kiryat Tivon, on the outskirts of Haifa, was informed that the Jewish Thought program at the school would close in the next academic year.
In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Verta said he didn’t know if there was a connection between the current school decision to fire him and the incident a few months ago. He added that other teachers were also laid off, including his colleague in the Jewish Thought program.
ORT Israel, the Science and Technology Education Network told The Jerusalem Post that, “The school administration was forced to reduce the positions of some teachers and cut back the positions of other teachers, this since the hourly budget for school hours are derived from the number of students and additional funds for hourly standards transferred by the municipality and payments by parents.”
According to sources at the school, six other teachers were also fired and additional teachers had their teaching hours reduced due to the budgetary constraints.
Earlier this year, Verta was summoned for a disciplinary hearing in January following the student complaint and the ORT network decided not to fire him.
The student who made the initial complaint, Sapir Sabah, wrote a letter to Education Minister Shai Piron in January, which was leaked to the press, in which she said Verta “described himself as an extreme Leftist, said that our country doesn’t at all belong to the Jews but rather to the Palestinians, and that we, the Jews, shouldn’t even be here.”
Sabah said Verta acknowledged to his students that he voted for the non-Zionist Hadash party, and that he would ridicule her whenever she expressed an opposing opinion.
Following the incident, classmates of Sabah and Kiryat Tivon parents and residents spoke out in solidarity with Verta and said his classes allowed for an “open discussion.”
In the wake of the incident, Piron penned a letter in February in which he said he would appoint a committee to examine the proper relationship between politics and education.
In the letter, the education minister said unequivocally that “even if a teacher is wrong, there is no room for dismissal.”
“Not every forbidden expression should turn into an exciting stormy affair, but at the same time not every inquiry, alert or warning should immediately turn into a war of annihilation of freedom of expression and human rights.”
With regards to the Kiryat Tivon teacher, Piron wrote “some of the statements made by Adam Verta were inappropriate; others were legitimate, even if they were not pleasant to my ears or to the ears of many in Israeli and other societies.”