Massachusetts student sentenced for wearing hijab

A charter school in Massachusetts admits its “handling of the case came across as disrespectful,” after an eighth-grader was charged with a uniform offense for wearing a headscarf.

An image of the “school uniform compliance form” the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School girl received from a teacher for wearing the hijab on Thursday was shared on social media by a member of the student’s family. The word “jihab”, which is the incorrect spelling of Muslim women’s headscarf, was used to describe the offence.

In an emailed statement, the school noted that while it allows students to dress in religious attire “to express their honest opinions,” it also requires them to bring a letter “stating their desire to a member of their clergy”.

The student received no punishment, according to school superintendent Alex Dan, and the materials that were sent home were simply meant to spark a discussion with the family about the religious accommodation request. Dan admitted, however, that the incident was mishandled.

The school released a statement which read: ‘While we would like to reiterate that the highly respected member of staff overseeing the process should not take responsibility for what happened, we understand how our handling of the situation has come to be. as unresponsive and we look forward to taking this opportunity to learn and improve our policies and procedures. »

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations reports that its attorneys are representing the student’s family and are investigating the matter. According to the group, the student now covers his head at school.

According to Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, executive director of CAIR-Massachusetts, wearing the hijab or other religious attire should not require families to seek housing.

She said on Sunday: “I would never want this student to have to defend what she is wearing.” I never want them to have to explain why it requires reasonable accommodation.

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s policy of banning hair braid extensions also drew criticism in 2017. When Mya and Deanna Cook were 15, their parents claimed that if white students weren’t punished for hairstyle violations, their black twin daughters had, for wearing extensions.

The school dropped the policy following harsh criticism, including that of Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Mya Cook told CBS Boston that Mystic Valley should move on and start accepting and including individuals. “Stop trying to impose this monoculture on everyone, please. It does not work.

Following this incident, Republican Governor Charlie Baker passed a law banning discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles, such as afros, cornrows, or tight twists, in workplaces, education systems, and colleges. organizations associated with state education.

A former student told CBS Boston earlier this year that the school’s goal of treating everyone equally and refusing to appreciate cultural diversity is racist and outdated.

It lowers your self-esteem, according to Thora Henry. She wondered if Mystic Valley was a good school for her and left the establishment. “Yes, the test results are great, but was the school good for the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the students? And I personally came to the conclusion that it’s not for me.

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