Muslim kindergarten student assaulted by teacher at CMS elementary school, civil rights group claims

Muslim kindergarten student assaulted by teacher at CMS elementary school, civil rights group claims

CHARLOTTE, NC (Joe Marusak/The Charlotte Observer) - The nation's largest Muslim civil rights group called Wednesday for an investigation into what it said were assaults by a teacher on a Muslim kindergarten student at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg elementary school.

The assaults at David Cox Road Elementary School in north Charlotte started at the beginning of the school year, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C. The latest occurred on Nov. 16, the council said.

"During the first two months of the school year, (the Muslim student) was subjected to relentless bullying and harassment not only by his classmates, but by (the teacher)," Maha Sayed, a civil rights lawyer for the organization, wrote to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

For example, the teacher routinely singled out the student from his classmates and made him carry a heavy backpack throughout the day, Sayed wrote.

"The backpack contained a large textbook and headphones, which caused (the student) to develop significant back pain," the letter said. The teacher "would also treat Malik harshly and reportedly called him 'bad Muslim boy' on multiple occasions."

On Nov. 16, according to the letter, the teacher "reportedly approached (the student). . .grabbed him by the neck and began choking him. (Another teacher) then separated the two and began consoling (the student) who was crying and extremely shaken."

The council said the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment "both create a legal duty to provide a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment for all students."

The organization has requested a "comprehensive investigation" of the incidents and disciplinary action against anyone "found culpable of misconduct."

The group wants the student transferred "to a safe kindergarten classroom free from discrimination and retaliatory actions." All David Cox Road Elementary faculty and staff should receive cultural and religious diversity training, the group requested.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students," CMS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said. "CMS takes these allegations seriously and is currently investigating."