A schoolteacher in Tennessee has been placed on leave after videos posted to the internet showed someone in the classroom removing a Muslim student’s headscarf–or, hijab.
The videos in question were taken at the New Vision Academy Charter School in Nashville.
The first video was initially posted to Snapchat and captioned, “pretty hair.” The second video was also shared on Snapchat with the caption, “Lol all that hair cover up!!!”
In each video, the young student can be seen hiding her face as an adult’s hand rips away her religious head covering. The hands of students flock to the girls’ head–apparently touching her without consent repeatedly.
The videos were apparently shared with multiple people via Snapchat and eventually one of the messaging service’s users forwarded them to the local NBC affiliate, WSMV News 4. The station’s anchors then showed the videos to the girl’s family. Her mother and sister responded, saying, “This should never happen.”
New Vision Academy’s Principal Dr. Tim Malone was confronted with the videos and immediately began an investigation.
According to News 4, the teacher first claimed that no videos been made. Later, the teacher said the girl’s hijab was not removed out of disrespect.
Malone issued a statement, which reads, in part:
The actions depicted in the Snapchat video do not reflect the values, culture or climate of New Vision Academy. New Vision Academy will continue to emphasize that all staff members act in a way meant to empower and inspire our students. New Vision will use this video as an opportunity to press forward with increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness among all members of the New Vision community.
News 4 also showed the videos to Kasar Abdulla, a specialist who teaches Muslim diversity and sensitivity training to faculty at Nashville-area schools. She said:
As a female, and as a mother of three daughters, it should never be okay to rip off an article of clothing off of a female, period. I highly encourage those faculty members in that particular school to take a crash course on why the hijab is so important to some of my students, and why my students cover up.
The teacher in question was suspended without pay and the students in the classroom at the time have been forced to discuss the incident by New Vision’s administration.
[image via screengrab; video courtesy WSMV News 4]