Pinellas school officials were slow to respond after an 11-year-old Muslim girl was harassed, humiliated and last week threatened with death by a boy in her science class, a local advocacy group for Muslims charged Monday.
However, district officials said the staff at Azalea Middle School quickly took appropriate action and that the boy had been disciplined.
The problems started from the beginning of the school year for the St. Petersburg girl, said Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR. Eighth-graders at Azalea taunted her because of her Muslim head scarf, he said. They called her a terrorist and asked if she was hiding any bombs.
The harassment stopped after her parents complained to the school, Bedier said. Then a sixth-grade boy began to bother her about 10 days ago, punching her in the arms and shoulders and once holding her against wall, his hands around her throat, he said.