A Muslim Family says a Chicago Public School teacher singled out their son as resembling a terrorist and says it hopes a federal civil rights hearing will end with the teacher’s dismissal.
The Chicago Teachers Union describes the teacher as “distraught” and “hurt” because she had tried to give the boy special attention in the two years since his mother died.
Christina Abraham, civil rights director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, is acting as a spokesman for the family. She says the teacher, during a lesson on security at Brentano Academy, said that Saleh Choudhary–a 6th grader at the time–might be considered a terrorist were he to show up at an airport boarding gate with electronic equipment in his backpack.
Abraham said that, to the boy, that meant he was being called a terrorist.
The Choudhary family is Pakistanti-American.
Saleh’s father says his son came home crying, saying he was being intimidated and isolated by other students. He says he feared for his son’s safety.
The family, the association, a school board representative and a federal mediator from the Education Department’s civil rights office met Thursday for three hours and agreed to meet again in late next month.
The boy’s brother Mohmmad said he hopes the teacher will be fired.
“Everybody started teasing him and calling him a terrorist after the comments were made by the teacher,” Mohmmad said.
School Board spokesman Mike Vaughn said a school investigation sustained the complaint against the teacher who’s been transferred from Brentano to another school.
CTU Press Secretary Rose Maria Genova said the investigation was cursory and no investigative reports were forwarded to the union as required by contract.
She says the Union will stand behind the teacher and ensure all of her rights are protected.
The superintendent of Chicago Public Schools says lengthy suspension or possible termination is on the table.
“We have huge concerns about the conduct of the teacher,” said Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. “From my standpoint, what happened is absolutely unacceptable and we’re looking at some very severe sanctions because of that behavior. “