A teacher at Tilden Middle School in North Bethesda has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly penning antisemitic conspiracy theories on social media, a Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson confirmed.
Sabrina Khan-Williams is a team leader and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) teacher at Tilden within the world studies department. MoCo360 was unable to reach Khan-Williams via emails and calls on Wednesday for comment.
Screenshots of the posts have gone viral across social media and have been picked up by news outlets. The Daily Wire, a right-wing media network and news outlet, first reported on the posts this week and published screenshots.
In one post, Khan-Williams wrote, “Palestinian’s [sic] are being killed and their organs are being sold. How is real life scarier than movies??” under a video which discussed organ harvesting of Palestinians.
Another Khan-Williams post – among a handful of others – on Facebook denies the that the Hamas terrorist attack on the Israeli Supernova music festival ever occurred, according to The Daily Wire.
“Debunked!! No music festival attack. Babies were not burned. Women were not violated,” she wrote on Facebook, according to the screenshots.
MoCo360 was unable to find the original social media posts or Khan-Williams’ Facebook account, and it is unclear when the posts were first published.
Emily Proffitt, a Tilden Middle School parent, said as a parent it was “shocking” to see the screenshots.
“But as a Jewish parent it was terrifying. And it was scary to see a teacher – especially a DEI teacher and a team leader, teacher of social studies and history – try to rewrite history with her posts,” Proffitt said. “And being a denier essentially it was almost like what a Holocaust denier does, denying the events of Oct. 7.”
Proffitt said that within the Tilden school community there is a high number of Jewish and Israeli-American families and said the incident has been “very upsetting.”
Eric Reicher, a Bethesda MCPS parent with two students in elementary school, said he has seen the screenshots and said they were “disturbing.”
“I would have reservations about having my children in a class for somebody who held and publicly espoused views as expressed in those social media posts,” Reicher said. “There’s plenty of room for reasonable disagreement on many aspects of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, but some of those posts go well beyond that.”
The Montgomery County Jewish Parents Coalition released a statement about the incident which stated: “It is absolutely abhorrent for a teacher to espouse these hateful lies. This egregious behavior also underscores the urgent need for a critical examination of DEI programming and those that lead them, as they reveal a concerning connection between the promotion of harmful stereotypes within these initiatives and the perpetuation of antisemitism.
“We call upon MCPS to conduct a full investigation, provide transparency on this matter, and return to diversity programs that focus on our similarities, respect, and tolerance instead of the divisions.”
Tilden Middle School Principal Sapna Hopkins wrote a letter to the school community on Monday addressing the social media posts and said that the school followed MCPS protocols in initiating an investigation.
“These social media posts have undermined our school’s values of respect and belonging. I understand the deep distress and hurt this incident has caused our community,” Hopkins wrote. “We strive to be a No Place for Hate school. It is evident from recent events that we are not there yet. I acknowledge that we have work to do to live up to our values of respect and inclusion.”
Hopkins wrote that she contacted staff members of the Office of Student Welfare and Compliance and the Office of Student Support and Well-Being to aid the school in its response to the incident. Hopkins added that she also reported the incident “to the appropriate MCPS department” responsible for initiating an investigation.
Hopkins also reminded the school community that a “strict process governs” the school’s response to the incident and results from an investigation are considered a personnel matter. Employee privacy laws prohibit MCPS and Tilden Middle School from providing further details on the personnel matter, she wrote.
MCPS spokesperson Chris Cram echoed that sentiment. He confirmed Khan-Williams was on leave but said he could not comment further on the personnel matter.
“The letter from the principal clearly indicates the expectations for employees governed by policy, regulation and our MCPS Social Media Best Practices for Employees. The nature of the alleged messaging is hurtful and antisemitic in nature,” he wrote in an email. “As a school community, we must condemn statements demeaning individuals or groups.”
Hopkins’ letter to the community also shares best practices for MCPS employees on social media, stating, “Whether online or in the classroom, employees should refrain from any action or conduct that: threatens the safety of students, fellow employees or the broader community; undermines the employee’s professional integrity; and/or makes them unfit to perform their assigned duties.”
She also cited Board Policy ACA, Nondiscrimination, Equity and Cultural Proficiency which states, “Discrimination in any form will not be tolerated. It impedes Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) ability to discharge its responsibilities to all students and staff, and achieve our community’s long-standing efforts to create, foster, and promote equity, inclusion, and acceptance for all.”
Since the start of the Israel-Hamas, MCPS has faced criticism from the county’s Jewish community for its response and communications about the conflict. In multiple instances, antisemitic graffiti has been found on school campuses since the start of the war.
Despite major social media backlash pointed at Khan-Williams – such as calls for her termination – and disappointment from community members, Hopkins said that she is confident the school can come out of this incident as “stronger and more united” in its commitment to non-discrimination, equity and cultural proficiency.
“We are resolute in our values, and under my leadership, we will work tirelessly to ensure that every student feels safe, valued, and respected at Tilden,” Hopkins wrote.