4 May 2011

Houston teacher suspended for making racial insult connecting American born Muslim student to Osama bin Laden

KTRK-TV/DT ABC13 - Houston, Texas May 3, 2011

Teacher disciplined over comment to Muslim student

by Cynthia Cisneros

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The death of Osama bin Laden is related to an investigation of a teacher at Clear Brook High School. The teacher is accused of making a racially insensitive comment to a student in front of the entire class.

A Friendswood mom says she was offended by what her daughter says happened Monday in ninth grade algebra.

She said, "The teacher told the student that 'I bet you're grieving.' And she basically looked at him and said what are you talking about? And he said I heard about your uncle's death and she said wow, because she understood that he was referring about Osama bin Laden being killed and was racially profiling her."

The remark was made to a classmate, an American-born girl of Muslim faith. It happened at Clear Brook High School in the Clear Creek Independent School District. The mom wanted to speak out about the incident but wanted us to protect her identity, saying she doesn't want any retaliation against her daughter or the girl who experienced the inappropriate comment.

The mother said, "The student ended up crying over what was said to her by the teacher and the teacher asked her why she was crying and another student said it was because of what you said earlier. And his response was, oh, OK, and just kind of smirked and giggled and walked away."

The Clear Creek school district was quick to respond, confirming what was said and issuing a prepared statement.

"In the Clear Creek Independent School District, we believe diversity strengthens our community and seek opportunities to celebrate the different cultures within our schools and neighborhoods. The sentiments allegedly shared by this teacher are not reflective of the staff at Clear Brook High School or anyone within the Clear Creek Independent School District. In accordance with CCISD policy, the teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a personnel investigation.
The student did the right thing and immediately notified an adult regarding the teachers' comments. The principal at Clear Brook High School notified the child's parents and has been in communication with the family." - Elaina Polsen, Director of Public Information, Clear Creek Independent School District

The Islamic Society of Greater Houston agrees with the action, saying they believe the incident is isolated. The group does not call for any further response.

"A lot of people are ignorant in the world, and so you just have to ignore them," suggested Dr. Aziz Siddiqui with the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

Meanwhile, the Friendswood mom read a text she received from the girl.

She read, "Make it a lesson learned about how the world is going through stuff and he needs to watch what he says and so do others because Osama does not represent the whole Muslim faith."

The mom says that the girl remains in class and she is grateful that her classmates stuck up for her.

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