“That’s going to be you,” the Academy of Excellence teacher allegedly warned a 12-year-old Muslim student after showing the class a movie about the 9/11 attacks. And if that sounds outrageous, brace yourself because it gets a lot worse.
No wonder the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Arizona are siccing the U.S. Dept. of Justice and the U.S. Dept. of Education on this travesty of a public charter school and this shameful example of an educator’s sorry a**. Heather Weaver from the ACLU’s national office reports they’ve filed formal complaints on behalf of the Muslim student and his family.
Asli Noor and her five children are refugees who settled in Phoenix, Arizona after fleeing Somalia. Like most parents, she wants opportunities and a good education for her children. And for many families — especially those living in low-income neighborhoods — that means a public charter school like the sadly misnamed “Excellence Academy.”
The boy and his eight-year-old sister (referred to in the complaint as A.A. and F.A.) had started the 2015-2016 school year when the family’s new set of troubles began.
According to the complaints, an “Academy of Excellence” teacher named Faye Myles began “singling out” the then 11-year-old, sixth grade Muslim student as the 2015-16 school year began for “disfavorable treatment because of his faith and nationality.”
‘Another time, when A.A. raised his hand to answer a question, his teacher snapped at him — “All you Muslims think you are so smart” — in front of the entire class.’
Oh, and then the boy recalls the math and science teacher for grades 5-8 digressing into a special kind of lesson in civics and current events.
‘I can’t wait until Trump is elected. He’s going to deport all you Muslims. Muslims shouldn’t be given visas. They’ll probably take away your visa and deport you. You’re going to be the next terrorist, I bet.’
Faye Myles also allegedly found other ways to wound her young Muslim student with her bigotry. She repeatedly denied him the right to pray during recess, which is hard to imagine ever happening to a Christian student. The child also claims his “Academy of Excellence” teacher would also would tell him to “shut up” and punish him during class “downtime” when the other students were allowed to talk with each other.
The bus rides home added to the child’s misery as his classmates began to follow the teacher’s example and pile on the insults.
‘On the bus ride home, A.A.’s classmates took up his teacher’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant crusade, taunting him about the fact that his visa would be revoked because he is a Muslim, calling him a “terrorist,” and accusing him of planning to blow up the bus.’
The child, of course, started feeling anxious and physically ill “with a stomach ache” and had no desire to return to the “Academy of Excellence.”
In January, Asli Noor met with school officials to complain about these incidents. Three days later, the school asked her to pick her son up early because he had supposedly tried to open the school bus’ emergency window. Noor demanded they verify these accusations with footage from the security camera but school officials refused.
And then Brenda Nelson, an “Academy of Excellence” board member, printed out two “voluntary” withdrawal forms for A.A. and his younger sister F.A. She then allegedly ordered Ms. Noor to sign them, saying:
‘Get your kids out of here. I don’t want them here.’
When Asri Noor begged for time to find another school for her children, Brenda Nelson callously refused.
Unfortunately, these incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry in publicly-funded schools are happening more frequently. Think Progress reports that even in schools where teachers try to fight it, Trump-inspired bullying is a serious issue.
‘In spite of some teachers’ valiant efforts to teach students about Trump, it would appear that schoolchildren already invoke the candidate’s name to scare their Latino and Muslim classmates, referencing the candidate’s harsh claims of Latino criminals and Muslim terrorists.’
And, sadly, it’s not just the kids.
‘A predominantly Latino elementary school in California was graffiti-tagged with the words “Build the wall higher” last week, alluding to Trump’s policy plan to build a southern U.S. border wall to keep out undocumented immigrants.’
And in case you assume the “Academy of Excellence” teacher is one of those mean white Trump supporters, you’re wrong. Apparently, she’s a mean black Trump supporter.
— John Q Archibald (@JohnQarchibald) October 30, 2016
Featured image: Lynn Koenig via Getty Images.