The Maplewood Police Department (MPD) in New Jersey are conducting investigations after Tamar Herman, a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School, forcibly pulled off the hijab of the second-grade student Sumayyah Wyatt this Wednesday as she was pleading “No, no, my hijab, my hijab.”
Wyatt’s mother, Zaynab, said that her daughter has become traumatized because of it, adding that she hasn’t gone to school ever since.
“She walked up to her and said, ‘You can’t wear this in here’ and Sumayyah was like, ‘No, that’s my hijab, that’s my hijab’,” Zaynab told PIX11 News, demanding that Herman would get terminated.
“I think that she should be reprimanded, I think that she should be fired, and I think that she should feel disgusted because it was disgusting what she did,” she added.
The School District of South Orange Maplewood’s Communications Director Anide Eustache issued two statements saying that they were “made aware of an allegation of discrimination and immediately began an investigation.”
“Seth Boyden is dedicated to maintaining a culture of wellness, diversity, and safety that creates a positive environment for our students to thrive on campus,” Eustache added.
According to PIX11 News, Wyatt’s Attorney Robert Tarver, Jr. reported that, unlike what’s been said in the District’s statements, there have been other cases of discrimination present that weren’t exposed yet.
“Even in a community like Maplewood, which has a Mayberry type of story behind it, there are some things that are very strange lurking behind the scenes,” he said.
In this light, The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) called for “the immediate firing” of Herman, adding that “classrooms are a place for students to feel safe and welcome, not fear practicing their faith.”
“We call for the immediate firing of the Maplewood teacher who pulled off the headscarf of a young Muslim student. Anything less is an insult to the students and parents of Maplewood, NJ,” CAIR-NJ tweeted.
However, this isn’t the first time that a Muslim student gets her hijab removed at school.
In November 2017, a teacher at the New Vision Academy Charter School in Nashville, Tennessee, was fired for forcibly removing a student’s hijab and posting two videos on Snapchat under the captions “pretty hair,” and “LOL all that hair cover up” respectively.
Similarly, the following week of November 2017, the Technology Education Teacher Lesmond Saunders at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Fairfax County, Virginia, was suspended after a backlash surged because he pulled off a student’s hijab.
The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) surveyed 300 Muslim students in 2015 and found that 27 percent of respondents who wore hijab reported being discriminated against by their teachers.
In essence, Wyatt’s story has come to light after Ibtihaj Muhammad, the Olympic fencer, posted on her Facebook and Instagram profiles, condemning the incident and calling upon everyone to take action against it.
“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,” Muhammad said in her Facebook post.
“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,” she continued.
Wyatt’s family, as well as their attorney, are expected to hold a press conference early this upcoming week to address Wyatt’s incident and uncover other incidents of discrimination “lurking” in the district.