Washington Hebrew Congregation’s preschool leader on leave amid lawsuit

The head of the preschool program at the Washington Hebrew Congregation has been placed on administrative leave after several parents of toddlers filed a lawsuit against the congregation, alleging Edlavitch Tyser Early Childhood Center director Deborah “D.J.” Schneider Jensen and the school ignored the warning signs of sexual abuse taking place on its campus in Northwest D.C.

Jensen was put on paid leave earlier this week, according to temple spokeswoman Amy Rotenberg.

The lawsuit alleges that the school’s director ignored reports about a male teacher’s odd behavior with at least eight 3- and 4-year-old boys and girls at the school. It also claims the school broke the law by allowing the teacher to be alone with the children and that it was negligent amid “systemic, regular sexual abuse.”

Rotenberg said in an email to WTOP that the temple first reported the abuse in August 2018 and has fully cooperated with law enforcement and government investigations since. Right now, the allegations are being investigated by both the Office of the D.C. Attorney General and D.C. police.

The teacher was not named in the lawsuit and has not been accused of any wrongdoing by police or the attorney general’s office.

According to Rotenberg, the teacher at the center of the allegations has had his employment terminated and is not allowed to be on congregation property. The school has also provided counselors for families that have requested it, Rotenberg said.

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