Jana Elhifny came to Reno from Egypt with her family a year ago seeking the freedoms promised to all Americans. Instead the 16-year-old Muslim girl who wears a scarf as a symbol of her religion faced a death threat and harassment at North Valleys High School.
She said she was so frightened of continued mistreatment that in December she stopped going to school.
“I’m so scared of going back to high school,” Elhifny said. “I don’t want to do it all over again. I don’t want to try. I can’t have it 24/7. I can’t.”
Mahmoud Hendi, president of the Northern Nevada Muslim Community of about 2,000 members, said school officials have told him about isolated similar incidents in other schools.
But being bullied or harassed transcends cultural, religious and ethnic lines.
To date, there have been 865 reported incidents of harassment in the Washoe County School District this school year. The incidents include bullying, hazing and verbal disturbance, according to numbers provided by the district.
North Valleys has the highest number reported with 185 incidents. Reed High School, with 149, and Spanish Springs High School, with 136, also reported a high number of incidents