Holding Antisemites Accountable.

Close this search box.

Tennessee Assistant Principal and History Teacher Under Investigation after Antisemitic COVID Comparison

Assistant Principal Janna Matykiewicz, pictured.

Update August 25th: Janna Matykiewicz has resigned; more here.

*** *** ***

Germantown Municipal School District opened an investigation Thursday after antisemitic social posts surfaced linked to a Houston High School assistant principal and history teacher.

A screenshot of the now-deleted Facebook post appears to be made by Janna Matykiewicz, assistant principal. Under the post, it appears Houston social studies teacher Tony Benzing posted a comment, which was also anti-Semitic. 

Students started a petition to fire Matykiewicz which had 1,428 signatures by Thursday afternoon.

“As a student body, we are scared and outraged,” said Houston High student Sophia Overstreet. “We feel like our voices aren’t being heard and our safety isn’t being considered.”

The petition calls the post “a complete ignorant statement, it is also completely antisemitic. Comparing a vaccine to one of the most tragic genocides in history is baffling.”

In an email obtained by the Commercial Appeal, Rabbi Sarit Horwitz, spiritual leader of Memphis Beth Sholom Synagogue, emailed Matykiewicz, Benzing, Principal John Taylor, and Superintendent Jason Manuel on Thursday saying the posts were “…so utterly wrong…” and do not understand the Holocaust’s history.

“Comparing vaccine requirements to the systematic execution of 6 million is not only wrong, it is abhorrent, disgusting and hurtful,” Horwitz’s email read. “Weaponizing the great trauma of the Jewish past for your political gain is offensive and completely inexcusable, particularly as individuals that shape the minds of our future.”

The rabbi called the post’s comparison “…a gross misappropriation and misuse of the Jewish past, of Jewish trauma.”

Germantown Municipal School District launched an investigation into the post and comment, a district spokesperson said.

“Germantown Municipal School District does not condone the misappropriation or misuse of the Jewish past for political purposes,” spokesperson Kate Crowder said in an emailed statement. “The trauma of the Holocaust should not be taken lightly, or diminished in any form or fashion. Any behavior that perpetuates the pain and hurt of one group of people has no place in our schools.”

The district did not confirm or deny the employment of Matykiewicz or Benzing, nor did the district say if either employee was currently working in the school building.

“GMSD has been made aware of statements on social media made by school personnel,” Crowder said. “This matter is currently under investigation. The District does not provide comments on active investigations.”

Crowder said the district is “…committed to supporting any stakeholders that have felt marginalized by any such statement or sentiment. If our students or staff, specifically our Jewish families, need support, our district is ready to work with individuals or groups.”

She said the district appreciates input from students, parents and families.

“One of Germantown Municipal School District’s core objectives is that our staff recognizes & celebrates the diversity of all students and provides opportunities for inclusive practices,” Crowder’s email said. “It is essential that every student and staff member feel safe and respected on our campuses.”