SAN FRANCISCO – A Muslim teenager who was ordered by a school monitor to take off a headscarf she wore for religious reasons returned to classes after school officials apologized to the family.

Issra Omer, 13, told her parents she was too embarrassed to show up for summer school classes at Seaside High School in Monterey County on Wednesday, the day after a monitor demanded she remove her hijab, the Muslim scarf covering the head and neck, to conform to the district’s no-hat policy.

Issra, whose family is originally from Sudan, explained that her scarf is worn for religious reasons, but the school employee still yelled at her, said her father, Yousif Omer. The teenager, who will be starting 9th grade in the fall, felt humiliated by being singled out in front of her peers, and started crying, he said.

The school’s principal, Syd Renwick, explained the employee didn’t intend any harm.

“It was a religious expression that wasn’t recognized as such,” Renwick said. “There was not malicious intent.”

Renwick sent a letter of apology to the family and offered to apologize in person.

But the family and a national Muslim civil liberties organization would like the school to issue a public apology.

“We don’t want the students to walk away thinking it’s OK to humiliate someone who is different, particularly in an educational institution,” said Abiya Ahmed, with the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.


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