BERGEN COUNTY - DISCRIMINATION
Representation in lawsuit under NJ Law Against Discrimination (and/or federal discrimination claims)
SA and SA are siblings who were both enrolled in the same high school (the brother, 19, graduated in June 2017, and the sister, 17, was disenrolled by the district for excessive absences in January 2017 during her junior year). The siblings are U.S. citizens of Palestinian background and Muslim faith; there are very few Muslim students in their high school. There have been numerous instances of insensitivity on the part of the district. A guidance counselor with a poster of the Twin Towers on fire and the motto “never forget” said, “We don’t have a lot of your kind” and “What country are you from?” Another student hacked into the brother’s email account and put his name on a terror watch list. The band director only called SA “Mohammed” or “Son of Islam,” and other band members repeatedly made fun of him on social media. When SA and his mother, DO, complained, they were essentially told to toughen up. SA was depressed and traumatized as a result of this behavior. In addition, the sister was repeatedly harassed by another student, became too traumatized to attend school, and was ultimately disenrolled. The family filed a HIB complaint that did not result in a finding of HIB because the district considered the threat (“I hope you bleed out on the floor and die”) to be a falling out among friends. DO is seeking appropriate consequences for the band director in particular, improvement of school climate at the high school for other Muslim students, and monetary damages.
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