Date: 18 Rajab 1444   Wednesday 08 February 2023

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US school writes up student for wearing hijab

08:08 22 August 2022 Author :  

An 8th grader at a Massachusetts charter school has been written up for wearing a hijab.

The school later said it understands its “handling of the situation came across as insensitive.”

A family member of the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School student posted on social media a picture of the “School Uniform Compliance Form” the student received from a teacher for the hijab on Thursday. In the description of the infraction, the headscarf worn by Muslim women was misspelt as “jihab.”

The school said in an emailed statement that it allows students to wear religious attire “as an expression of their sincerely held beliefs" but asks students to provide a letter “expressing this desire from a member of their clergy.”

School Superintendent Alex Dan said there were no consequences given to the student and that the form sent home was meant to start the conversation with the family about obtaining a religious accommodation. But Dan acknowledged that the situation was mishandled.

"While we would like to reiterate that the well-respected staff member overseeing the process should bear no responsibility for what has transpired, we understand how our handling of the situation came across as insensitive and look forward to using this moment as a learning opportunity to improve our policies and procedures," the school's statement said.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says its lawyers are representing the student’s family and are investigating the situation. The student is now wearing a hijab at school, the group said.

CAIR-Massachusetts Executive Director Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said wearing a hijab or other religious attire shouldn't require families to seek an accommodation.

“I would like never for that student to have to justify what she is wearing,” she said on Sunday. 

A school with a record

The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School also came under fire in 2017 for a policy of banning hair braid extensions. 

The parents of then-15-year-olds said their twin daughters, who are Black, were punished for wearing extensions while white students hadn’t been punished for violations of hairstyle regulations.

After intense criticism, including from Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, the school abandoned the policy.

In July, Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed a law prompted by that incident to ban discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles — such as Afros, cornrows or tightly coiled twists — in workplaces, school districts and school-related organisations in the state.

Source: AP

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