Family: Southside Schoolteacher Discriminates Against Muslim Girl

POSTED: 5:06 pm EDT May 31, 2006
UPDATED: 8:45 pm EDT May 31, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville family recently
filed a complaint with the school board, claiming a
teacher at a Southside elementary school discriminated
against their daughter because she's Muslim.

Ten-year-old Alana Scott said she was forbidden to
perform with her school orchestra because of her
religion. Alana wears a head scarf and said her
orchestra teacher at Pine Forest Elementary School
ridiculed her for wearing it and wouldn't allow her to
perform in a concert.

The girl's mother, Latisha Jones, recently filed a
discrimination complaint with the school board on her
daughter's behalf.

Alana told her mother that her music teacher
questioned why she wears her head scarf and that the
same teacher was the one who refused to let her play
her instrument with her classmates.

The 10-year-old told Channel 4 she has learned a lot
at school, and that this year she has learned about

"I want them to know that sometimes teachers don't
know everything," Alana said. "It made me feel

The Council on American-Islamic Relations became
involved in the case when Alana said her cello
instructor made several derogatory comments about her
head scarf.

"Why do you wear that nun thing? She explained to him
this is called a he jeb, an Islamic head scarf and the
reason why we wear it is for our religion. He
mockingly told her, 'Why would you do something like
that?' " said Ahmed Bedier of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations.

Jones said things went from bad to worse for her
daughter at the school when the teacher would not
allow Alana to get on a school bus to perform at a
school concert downtown. She said she believes it was
because of her Muslim beliefs.

"She had no clue what was going on. The only thing she
kept saying was, 'What did I do wrong? I don't
understand why he hates me so much,' " Jones said.

"I felt like I was rejected," Scott said.

Alana's family said no other students were told to get
off the bus, and that no other students were told they
could not perform.

"He forcibly kicked her off the school bus and
threaten her that he would call police and have her
and her mother arrested if she did not get off the
bus," Bedier said.

In their complaint with the school board Alana's
family and the Islamic Council asked for a full
investigation, an apology, a reprimand for those
involved and diversity training for all teachers.

The school board said an investigation is ongoing.

It's the school district's policy not to discuss
details of its investigations until they end, but the
school's principal, Denise Ahearn, said the school
does not discriminate.

"There is nothing about any child that come to us that
any way is reflective in any level of intolerance or
discrimination," Ahearn said.

Copyright 2006 by All rights reserved.
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Muslim organization says school discriminated against
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 10-year-old Muslim girl was
repeatedly discriminated against at school because of
her religion, the Council on American-Islamic
Relations said Wednesday.

The organization served a discrimination complaint to
Pine Forest Elementary School of the Arts on behalf of
cello player Alana Scott. The group said the school
and a music teacher penalized Scott because she is

The girl was also banned from participating in a music
concert with other schools because she was wearing a
traditional head scarf or hijab, CAIR said.

Scott was among several students not allowed to
participate for failing to take proper performance
uniforms for the April 25 show. The decision had
nothing to do with the hijab or her religion, said
principal Denise Ahearn.

Ahearn said the music group was told to wear their
school T-shirts during rehearsals and to bring their
uniform to change into before the concert. Scott and
several other students did not bring all the required
clothing items and were excused from the concert.
Ahearn declined to give the names of the other

Scott would have been allowed to perform wearing her
head scarf if she also wore her performance uniform,
Ahearn said.

"What is so distressing about this is that diversity
is so inherent in this school," Ahearn said. "Our
policy is that no child will be discriminated against.
We celebrate every child who walks through our doors."

CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier said Scott was
consistently mistreated by her music teacher, who
would ask her why she was wearing the head scarf.

The teacher could not be reached for comment.

A teacher also kicked Scott off the bus and threatened
to have her arrested, Bedier told The Florida-Times

"It was never mentioned to us that other students were
not allowed to perform," Bedier said, "but we know for
a fact that no other students were threatened with
arrest if they didn't get off the bus."

The girl and her mother met with the principal and the
teacher, Bedier said.

The organization is seeking a full investigation by
the school board, a reprimand of school officials
involved, a clarification of their nondiscriminatory
policy, and Islamic cultural competency training,
Bedier said.


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