Just two weeks before the election, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump withdrew their three young kids from Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School in Brightwood, reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The children, who range in age from four to nine, were transferred to Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, a Modern-Orthodox campus in Rockville.
Although Kushner cited the family’s desire for mostly in-person lessons—which Melvin J. Berman offers (and soon Milton will, too)—as the reason for the departure, Milton parents gave the JTA a different one: community upset about Kushner and Trump’s violation of the school’s Covid protocols at public events. The rules include wearing masks and adhering to social-distancing guidelines.
Although Ivanka Trump was a more frequent presence around the Milton campus, Kushner was the family’s main representative in school conversations that related to the matter, says a longtime parent with knowledge of the situation. According to the JTA, the Kushner-Trumps parted ways with Milton when they could not agree on a situation that allowed the couple more flexibility, given their senior roles in the administration.
“It just broke down in the end amid a particularly intense time,” says the parent. “The noncompliance on the part of the parents was a nonstarter, certainly for the teachers.”
According to the current version of the Milton Family Handbook obtained by Washingtonian, the school requires students to pass temperature checks and fill out a questionnaire before attending in-person classes. The questionnaire mainly pertains to the children themselves, rather than the larger family unit, says a Milton parent.
One of those questions relates to travel, specifically to the list of states DC deems high-risk. Although parents could turn on their televisions and catch Trump sans mask at the presidential debate in Cleveland, no disclosure by Trump was necessary. Ohio had just been removed from the list of high-risk jurisdictions, and the children themselves did not attend the debate.
However, the handbook also contains a clause that if the school is concerned about a student’s exposure to Covid-19 or violation of the school health protocols, Milton reserves the right to require a negative virus test or 14-day quarantine at home. And let’s face it: The White House—Kushner and Trump’s workplace—hasn’t exactly been subtle about operating counter to the rules.
“There wasn’t a feeling they were unwelcome because of their policies and politics,” says a Milton parent. “I think it’s really more of a corona issue.”
After Donald Trump tested positive for the virus on October 2, the school did not tell its families whether the Kushners had disclosed when the president had last seen his grandchildren, a mother told JTA. Had Kushner or Ivanka Trump received a positive diagnosis during the outbreak, they would have been required to share the news with the school.
Although Milton is the only Jewish day school in DC, the surrounding area has quite a few options for a Jewish education. Berman Hebrew Academy—20 minutes from Uncle Barron’s school, St. Andrew’s—adheres to safety directives such as daily health checks and mask usage as well as disclosure to the school nurse of any pending Covid tests or symptoms. Of course, how long the children remain at the school is a question mark, given that the Trumps will soon leave their positions at the White House.
Update: White House spokeswoman Carolina Hurley sent a statement in response to this article. “Unnamed sources attacking a family’s decision about what is best for their kids in the middle of a pandemic is shameful,” said Hurley. “As is true for all families, schooling choices and education are deeply personal decisions and they owe no one, especially idle gossips seeking press attention, an explanation.”