CAIR-NY Files Civil Rights Complaint Against NYC Dept. of Education Over Faith-Based Administrative Bullying of Nine-Year Old Muslim Student

(NEW YORK, N.Y., 11/13/2019) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today filed a civil rights complaint against the New York City Department of Education for its lack of action to faith-based administrative bullying of a nine-year old Muslim student.  

According to the complaint, a Public School 264 (P.S. 264) employee weaponized Zaman Mashrah’s nine-year old son’s Muslim faith to punish him for allegedly laughing during a lunch break. 

Specifically, on May 14, 2019, during Ramadan while Mashrah’s son was fasting, the school employee informed the child that since he was laughing “you must sit in the cafeteria and watch all the kids eat while you are fasting!”

As her child was forced to watch the non-fasting students eat their lunch, Mashrah’s son felt humiliated and ostracized for his religious practices. The other fasting students were escorted to the theater during lunch per school policy.   

After the school day, Mashrah’s son wept in his mother’s arms and broke down in tears as he recounted the bullying incident to the principal. Despite immediately reporting the incident, the school employee was not punished and continues to be employed at P.S. 264.

Mashrah transferred her child to a different school because he no longer felt safe at P.S. 264.  Her son has been traumatized and no longer wants to openly express or show his Muslim faith at school. 

[Note: A discrimination complaint was filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management (OEO) more than 176 days ago.  Although Dept. of Education mandates a written determination within 90 days be provided to Ms. Mashrah, no report has been produced despite multiple requests.] 

Read Complaint Mashrah v. NYC Dept. of Education et al

CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed stated:

"The Department of Education has an obligation to provide a safe school environment that is free of administrative bullying for all its students. A school employee weaponized Ms. Mashrah’s son’s religious practice.  When given an opportunity to live up to its obligations, the Department of Education failed Ms. Mashrah and her child.  Inexplicably, the Department of Education has sent a message to Muslim families that faith-based administrative bullying incidents will not be taken seriously.” 
 

Zaman Mashrah stated:

“I trusted P.S. 264 to treat my son with dignity and respect. Instead, my child had his religion used against him as a form of punishment.  He was humiliated, intimidated, and emotionally abused by a staff member.  When I reported the incident to the school, I expected the Department of Education to have our backs and protect my child.  The only person that has been protected is the staff member that bullied and abused a nine-year old boy.  Our family has been in distress, and my child’s education and social and emotional wellbeing continues to be affected.” 

CAIR-NY encourages all families to report all incidents of discrimination or bullying at school. New Yorkers may contact CAIR-NY for assistance by filing an incident report online at www.cair-ny.org/incident-report or call 646.665.7599. 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. 

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed, ahmedmohamed@cair.com, 646-481-2103; CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, anasher@cair.com, 917-669-4006


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