Father sues California private school over antisemitic discrimination

The plaintiff claims that his daughter was expelled from the Brentwood School after he complained about the new curriculum.

 Illustrative of the US and California state flags. (photo credit: PXHERE)
Illustrative of the US and California state flags.
(photo credit: PXHERE)

Jerome Eisenberg is suing the Brentwood School on seven counts, including violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and breach of contract. The father alleges that his daughter was expelled from the school after he raised concerns about its “discriminatory practices,” according to the official complaint submitted to the Superior Court of the State of California.

The complaint claims that Eisenberg enrolled his daughter, who is identified as J.E., at the Brentwood School because he believed that the elite private school would offer her an education based on the Western values that guided the Eisenberg home. After collecting the nearly $50,000 tuition from parents in 2020, the complaint asserts that the school engaged in a “bait-and-switch,” changing its curriculum from one typical of a classical education to a solely race-based program.

Parents had no say

The new curriculum ran contrary to Brentwood’s enrollment agreement, the complaint argues. In the agreement, a non-discrimination clause stated that the school “does not discriminate on the basis of any of these factors [race, color, national or ethnic origin or ancestry, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation] in the administration of its education or admissions policies or its financial support, athletics, or other programs.”

Eisenberg contends that, following a racial audit, Brentwood developed and implemented a discriminatory curriculum without parental consent that included studying a chart that accused white students of being racist simply due to the color of their skin. Teachers also supposedly humiliated students publicly if they did not adhere to certain political beliefs.

Michael Riera, head of the Brentwood School, responded to Eisenberg’s concerns about the curriculum by explaining that teachers know better than parents what students should learn since parents' ideas are outdated, the complaint states. 

Antisemitic discrimination

Riera also established affinity groups at the school for “almost every imaginable race and identity [that] existed at Brentwood during this time,” with a Jewish group being the notable exception. When Eisenberg and other parents attempted to form a Jewish group, the complaint maintains that they were “stonewalled” despite meeting the necessary requirements.

In an act of “intentional discrimination,” Riera did not allow the Jewish group to choose its own leaders but, contrary to other affinity groups, personally selected candidates in order to exercise control over the group, according to the complaint.

Eisenberg grew frustrated with the discriminatory policies of the school and purportedly asked that Brentwood put an end to its racially discriminatory behavior and return to its racially neutral ways that were promised in the enrollment agreement and adhered to in his daughter’s first year as a student there. 

In response, Riera threatened to expel J.E. if Eisenberg would not silence himself. Eisenberg cooperated in order to protect his daughter’s future, but Riera revoked the offer for J.E. to attend Brentwood the following year, the complaint alleges.

The father's lawyers argue that “[the] Defendants took these actions as retaliation for Mr. Eisenberg speaking out against Defendants’ discriminatory conduct and policies.”