GERMANTOWN, Tenn. — A Houston High School administrator who stirred controversy with a Facebook post comparing vaccine cards to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in the Holocaust has been reassigned.
Janna Matykiewicz is no longer an administrator at Houston High School, but is still employed by the district, the Germantown Municipal School District said Tuesday.
Portions of the district’s investigation are still ongoing, GMSD said.
In a now-deleted post, assistant principal Janna Matykiewicz wrote: “What’s the difference between vaccine papers and a yellow star? 82 years.”
Her profile has now been removed from Houston High’s website.
The post caused an uproar when it was screen captured and circulated among parents and others on social media.
In the wake of the outrage, the Anti-Defamation League got involved and released a joint statement with local groups Facing History and Ourselves and Jewish Community Partners.
Matykiewicz now serves as a homebound teacher and interim liaison, according to GMSD spokesperson Kathleen Crowder. Crowder said a homebound teacher typically teaches children who can’t go to school regularly due to medical restrictions.
For Beth Sholom Rabbi Sarit Horwitz, neither a reassignment nor a potential firing fix the issue.
“A lot of people are saying she shouldn’t get fired. This isn’t about firing her, but let’s take this as an educational opportunity to teach people what the trauma of the Holocaust means for the Jewish people,” Horwitz said.
Those taking up for Matykiewicz agree she shouldn’t be fired, but for different reasons.
Organizers from the Memphis Jewish Republican Coalition released a statement to WREG, which reads in part: “As a whole, our membership does not view the Facebook post by Ms. Matykiewicz as anti-Semitism. We view it simply for what it was: a bad analogy by someone who was not aware that her repost on FB equating being forced to show vaccination papers to Jews being forced to wear Jewish stars during WWII. Ms. Matykiewicz is only guilty of being unaware of Jewish sensibilities regarding her analogy.”
Horwitz said Matykiewicz can express herself, but should be careful due to her position in the community.
“It’s really important for our educators to think deeply about what opinions they put out in the public and how they shape the way our youth are learning from them,” she said. “She could say, ‘I’m upset with the way our current government is handling vaccinations.’ That’s fine. But to use the trauma of the Jewish people and our past in a flippant, meme-ish way, degrades the trauma.”
Horwitz said there are also concerns about a history teacher who commented on Matykiewicz’s post in support.
“Parents are worried there might be patterns of anti-Jewish sentiments expressed,” Horwitz said.
She said she’s offered to partner with GMSD to improve education and understanding and spoke with Superintendent Jason Manuel about it last week. We’ve asked the district for an update on these efforts.
WREG has also asked the district how long its investigation will take and the status of the history teacher.
You can read the rest of the statement from the Memphis Jewish Republican Coalition here:
“Let’s be clear, there is a hypercritical political aspect to this moral outrage. The left persists in portraying anti-vax Americans as Republican, even though there are people on both sides of the aisle who view this as a personal health decision and aren’t vaccinated (every Republican Governor in the USA is vaccinated). Democrats had no problem back in 2018 claiming POTUS Trump’s border policies and detention centers were the same as Nazi Concentration Camps. You did not hear a word about anti-Semitism then, because the media and the left had an agenda. You would be hard pressed to explain to me the difference between the appropriation of the yellow Jewish Star to advance a political agenda and using a Concentration Camp to make a point about border policy.
The real lesson here is that cyber bullying is no longer just a thing mean kids do to each other. Now adults are doing it. The phenomenon of ‘cancel culture’ invading our society is what is most disturbing about this incident. A fellow teacher at Houston High posted support for Ms. Matykiewicz, and now he is being investigated by the school – for what? America used to be a place where differences of opinion were tolerated, and incidents like this were ‘learning moments.’ Instead, we now have Facebook mobs wanting to hang people at high noon. Ms. Matykiewicz admitted her mistake, learned her lesson, and had taken down her post. I blame the press for legitimizing this petty incident. Lord help us when a real anti-Semitic incident happens and the public views it as Jews crying ‘WOLF.'”
WREG has reached out to Matykiewicz via email and at her home but has not received any response or comment.