Israel's Education Ministry Says It Got More Reports of Teacher Misconduct at Elite High School for Arts

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The Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Givatayim, Israel.
The Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Givatayim, Israel.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

The Education Ministry said it received reports on Sunday of inappropriate conduct on the part of three teachers currently on the faculty of the Thelma Yellin School for the Arts in Givatayim. The reports were received after a former art teacher at the school, the artist Boaz Arad, was found dead in the yard of his home on Friday after committing suicide.

A day earlier, the Mako website reported that Arad was being investigated for allegedly having sexual relations with female students at the school, where he taught from 1983 to 2006. The Mako report included Arad’s denial that he had sexual relations with students while they were still in high school, saying his relationships began after they graduated.

Claims: Kiss on cheek, harassment, encouragement of anorexia

In the first of the allegations received by the Education Ministry, it was reported that a female student saw a male teacher kiss a female student on the cheek. A male graduate alleged that a male teacher had sexually harassed him and, in the third case, it was alleged that a teacher at the school had encouraged anorexia. The school’s principal, Moshe Philosoph, received the reports and turned them over to the ministry. Philosoph did not give a response to Haaretz on the matter.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett ordered that the ministry investigate media reports about sexual misconduct at the school. On Monday a team of investigators came to the school to assess the situation and gather testimony.

Boaz Arad, artist and high school art teacher who committed suicide Feb. 2, 2018 after being accused of having sex with female students.Credit: Tali Shani

“The team held a discussion and examined all of the aspects related to the management of the school and the accounts in the media,” the ministry said in a statement. At the meeting with administrators, the ministry said it would help the school maintain academic routine with professional support for students and their parents and develop a long-term plan addressing the maintenance of proper “limits between teachers and students at the school.”

In recent weeks, in addition to the Mako report about Boaz Arad, other allegations about sexual misconduct at the school surfaced. A report by Haaretz in Hebrew cited allegations from media personality Assaf Harel that included an account of sexual propositions he said he received as a high school student from Menachem Nebenhaus, the conductor at the time of the Thelma Yellin school orchestra, at a private lesson at Nebenhaus’ studio. After speaking to school friends, Harel alleged that he learned from a number of schoolmates that Nebenhaus had made sexual propositions to them as well, that he had touched them and in one case allegedly had sexual relations with one under-age student for a fee. Nebenhaus declined to comment.

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