HOUSTON - A celebration of different cultures at a Houston high school led to a six-month-long controversy over the Israeli flag and allegations of discrimination from a student.
"I honestly was very surprised," said Eliav Terk, a recent graduate of Carnegie Vanguard High School on Taft Street in Montrose.
Terk said the high school hosts an annual international festival, allowing students from different cultures and ethnicities to share their heritage with others.
"It's really just a fun event that unfortunately this year took a negative turn," Terk said. "A group of students went to the Middle East booth and they took all the Israeli flags that were on the banner and proceeded to shred them up through the day or cover the flags with the Iranian or Palestinian flag."
Terk, who is Jewish, said he did not attend the international festival this past school year, which took place in November, but other students did and told him about the flag ordeal.
Terk told KPRC 2 he complained to administrators about the matter, claiming Jewish students had been discriminated against, but nothing happened. Several months passed, leaving Terk to think his complaint would go unheard. He then got the attention of the legal team at StandWithUs, an Israeli advocacy group.
This spring, StandWithUs filed a complaint with HISD on Terk's behalf.
In a statement to KPRC, an HISD spokesman wrote in part, "School officials handled the situation as a disciplinary matter and will handle any similar incidents according to the HISD Student Code of Conduct."
"It was really an entire team effort by the organization," Terk said in response to the matter being addressed by the school district.
That's all Terk said he wanted in the first place: proper protection against religious harassment. As he put it, according to HISD's own playbook.
"They are going to take steps to better protect students and to make sure something like this doesn't happen again," Terk said.
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