An Eighth-Grader Got Into Trouble For Wearing A Hijab To School

The incident has been condemned by local officials and by representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A charter school in Massachusetts is facing backlash after a teacher wrote a student up for a uniform infraction after she wore a hijab on the first day of eighth grade Thursday.

In a now-viral Facebook post, a family member of the girl shared a copy of the uniform infraction from Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, in the Boston suburbs. In the description of the infraction, the headscarf worn by many Muslim girls and women was misspelled as "jihab."

"She comes home crying and in a horrible emotional state refusing to go to school tomorrow," the family member wrote.

The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School building

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement Saturday that it had been in touch with the family and was investigating.

"The family has authorized us to let you know that the immediate situation is under control, as the student is wearing her hijab in school," CAIR staff said.

"We will continue to investigate what happened, review the policies of the school, and research applicable state and federal laws. We will also interview witnesses and listen to our community partners," the staff said. "We are all justifiably concerned about this young student and want to make sure that she is safe, and that her religious rights are respected and protected."

School Superintendent Alex Dan told BuzzFeed News that students are permitted to wear religious attire if they provide a letter "from a member of their clergy."

In a statement, he said the school regretted how the incident was "mishandled."

"While we would like to reiterate that the well-respected staff member overseeing the process should bear no responsibility for what has transpired, we understand how our handling of the situation came across as insensitive and look forward to using this moment as a learning opportunity to improve our policies and procedures," Dan said.

Malden Mayor Gary Christenson also said in a statement that he was saddened to hear about the incident and was in touch with the school about reforming its uniform policy.

"I understand that MVRCS has been unwavering in the commitment to its uniform policy, however, as a prominent member of our Muslim community stated, wearing hijab is a protected right, it is not part of a uniform and should not be looked at as such," Christenson said.

Superintendent Dan said school officials had indeed begun reaching out to religious figures "for input regarding how it may handle religious accommodations in the future."

This is not the first time there has been an outcry or media attention directed at the school, which has been accused in the Boston Globe newspaper of "a troubling pattern on issues of race."

In 2017, the parents of two Black teen girls at the school complained that their daughters were punished for hair braid extensions.

The school subsequently abandoned that policy, but the incident prompted state lawmakers this year to pass a law banning hairstyle discrimination at school or work.


This story has been updated with comment from the school superintendent.

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