ROME – A math teacher at an Italian high-school reportedly told a Jewish female student which she felt was not paying attention in class, "Had you been in Auschwitz,
you would have been more careful."
According to the student in Rome's
Caravillani high-school, the remarks were made after she had reentered the classroom having left it to wash her face as she was feeling ill.
The statement reduced her to tears and shocked some of her classmates who accused the teacher of racism. "I'm not anti-Semitic,"
the teacher later told Italian press, "but schools in Italy have no discipline anymore."
The student, who considered pressing charges, and two of her friends decided to boycott the teacher's classes. The school's headmaster called the teacher for a meeting in which she reportedly misspoke again when she said, "I said what I said to indicate a place where order rules."
The teacher eventually took leave and it is estimated that she will wait until the end of the school year to retire.
The president of Rome's Jewish community,
Riccardo Pacifici, praised the students who stood by their friend. "Their conduct prevailed over indifference and I believe they deserve praise," he said. Pacifici noted he intends ask Italy's president to honor the students in some way.
Italy is considered a European leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and its education system is devoted to battling xenophobia.
Many Italian students visit the Auschwitz death camp in Poland annually.
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