The family of a second-grade student in Maplewood, New Jersey, is outraged after a teacher allegedly ripped the girl’s hijab from her head. Speaking with WABC, Sumayyah Wyatt’s mother, Cassandra, said her daughter is now traumatized and dreads wearing her hijab as a result of the teacher’s action at Seth Boyden Elementary School.
The family’s lawyer said the incident happened last week when the teacher first told the student to remove her head covering, then proceeded to yank it off when the girl refused.
“Ultimately, the teacher succeeds in pulling the hijab off her head, followed by a bizarre statement which is, ‘Your hair is beautiful,'” the attorney said. “It is incredibly disturbing. It is very, very, symbolic of disregard of her religion and certainly something that has affected my clients overall.”
The family is now demanding for the educator to face consequences.
“She had to know that was a hijab,” Cassandra said. “She has to pay for that. I’d love for her to apologize to my daughter, and then my daughter would feel better.”
Attorney Samantha Harris, who represents the teacher, vehemently denies the allegations, saying “it’s a story about misinformation, and what happens when people publicize rumors without any knowledge of or regard for the truth.”
The attorney said the teacher told the student “to pull down the hood on what appeared to be a hooded sweatshirt because it was blocking her eyes.” Harris adds that the educator “immediately rescinded that request when she realized that the student was wearing the hood in place of, rather than on top of, her usual hijab.”
“The misinformation shared on social media has caused tremendous harm to (the teacher) – a teacher who, after more than 30 years of devoting her heart and soul to children of all backgrounds, has now had to ask for police protection due to the threats she is receiving following the dissemination of false information on social media,” the lawyer said in a statement.
Cassandra, however, said her daughter came home and gave a detailed account of the incident.
“She said, ‘Yes, Mommy, she pulled my hijab off… She walked up to me saying you can’t wear that in here, and then, she pulled it off.’ And when she went to pull it off, Sumayyah was trying to hold it,” the mother told WTVM. “And then, she finally got it off, looked at her hair and said, ‘Well, your hair is nice.’ Sumayyah said, ‘Oh, thank you’ and put her hijab back on. And the whole entire class seen it.”
The South Orange Maplewood School District said the incident is under investigation.
“The district takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously,” officials stated. “We remain committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout our schools, including providing anti-bias and anti-racism training for all educators in the district on a regular basis.”
Cassandra said her two girls have been wearing a hijab since they were very young.
“I try to teach them modesty and teach them about what God wants us to do and what is our purpose here,” the mother said.