A change in dress code rules for Monterey Peninsula Unified School District was approved Monday, months after a Muslim American student was reprimanded for wearing a head scarf at school.
Issra Omer, 13, was confronted by a campus supervisor during summer school at Seaside High in June for wearing her hajib, an Islamic head scarf. She was asked to remove it or provide a doctor’s note.
Trustees voted 6-0 to change the district’s dress code Monday to accommodate students who wish to practice their religious beliefs.
The new policy now includes language that will allow students to wear items, such as a head scarf, if they have sincerely held religious beliefs.
“If you allow an exception to a no-headwear policy for medical reasons, you must allow for religious headwear,” said Angela Chan, a staff attorney for the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco that represented the Omer family.
Board member Alan Haffa read a formal apology to Omer and her family. He said that the district believes in diversity and called it an “unfortunate incident.”
“We hope you will wear your hajib to school,” Haffa said.
“I just wanted them to say sorry,” said Omer, now a freshman at Marina High School. “That is basically it.” . . .
The San Francisco/Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, has worked with the family to request a change from the district. The group had four main goals it wanted to achieve: a community forum, diversity training for staff, a change in district policy and a public apology.
The council facilitated a community forum on Thursday at the Seaside Library attended by community members, teachers and district administrators.
A segment on American Muslims has been added to diversity training for faculty and staff members at the beginning of the school year. (MORE)


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