A New Jersey school district is investigating an incident where a teacher allegedly pulled off a 2nd grader's hijab in front of her class on Wednesday. The case now has the executive director of The Council on American-Islamic Relations of New Jersey, as well as hundreds of others, calling for that educator to be fired.
The girl's mother and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who is from Maplewood, made the allegations about a Seth Boyden Elementary schooler teacher in social media posts on Thursday, saying that the teacher told the young girl that her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear hijab to school.
"The young student resisted, by trying to hold onto her hijab, but the teacher pulled the hijab off, exposing her hair to the class," Muhammad wrote in her Instagram post.
"Imagine being a child and stripped of your clothing in front of your classmates. Imagine the humiliation and trauma this experience has caused her. This is abuse. Schools should be a haven for all of our kids to feel safe, welcome and protected— no matter their faith," she added. "We cannot move toward a post-racial America until we weed out the racism and bigotry that still exist in all layers of our society. By protecting Muslim girls who wear hijab, we are protecting the rights of all of us to have a choice in the way we dress."
In an emailed statement to parents on Thursday, the South Orange Maplewood School District said it was made aware of the allegations and started an investigation, adding that social media is "not a reliable forum for due process."
"We must abide by our legal obligations to keep personnel and student matters confidential. We will utilize the existing District due process mechanisms to ensure fair and just outcomes based upon the results of our investigation. Any decision or outcome related to this will be reserved for after the completion of the investigation," the statement read.
The executive director of CAIR-NJ early Friday called for the teacher to be fired, saying that the behavior is "absolutely unacceptable."
"Our @CAIRNJ office is calling for immediate termination," Selaedin Maksut tweeted. "Racist teachers like this cannot be trusted around our children."
A Change.org petition calling for the teacher's firing had more than 500 signatures by mid-morning.