- By Fiza Pirani The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A teacher at the New Vision Academy Charter School in Nashville, Tennessee, was suspended Wednesday after a video circulating on social media of someone removing a student’s religious head scarf was traced back to the educator.
According to News 4 in Nashville, the footage was reportedly posted from the teacher’s Snapchat account with the caption “pretty hair.”
News 4 obtained the video from a concerned viewer, and a reporter went to New Vision Academy Charter School to speak with school principal Tim Malone, who said the teacher originally told him “exposing the girl’s hair was not done out of disrespect” but denied posting the video.
In the video, the student wearing the hijab is shown hiding her face as someone removed the scarf and exposed her hair to the classroom. Multiple students are also seen playing with the girl’s hair as she tries to readjust it. Someone told her “her hair was too pretty to be covered,” the viewer told News 4.
A second video, reportedly from the same account, was captioned with “lol all that hair covered up.”
“This should never happen,” the student’s mother and sister told News 4.
In a statement to the news station Wednesday, Malone wrote that the teacher was suspended without pay.
New Vision Academy is a diverse school. As a school community, we pride ourselves on embracing and celebrating our racial, ethnic, religious and economic diversity. Our students learn, and grow, best when they learn from one another. To foster this environment, all students must feel respected and supported.
The actions depicted in the Snapchat video do not reflect the values, culture or climate of New Vision Academy. New Vision Academy will continue to emphasize that all staff members act in a way meant to empower and inspire our students. New Vision will use this video as an opportunity to press forward with increasing cultural sensitivity and awareness among all members of the New Vision community. The staff member in question has been suspended, without pay, and we have had direct discussions with the students depicted in the Snapchat. New Vision Academy apologizes for this unfortunate incident, and will be better in the future.
Women who wear the Muslim headscarf in America have often faced verbal insults, threats and, sometimes, physical intimidation.
In April, a man ripped the headscarf off a Muslim girl as he yelled “terrorist” at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a Muslim woman said she was robbed by a man who demanded she take off her hijab, threw her on the floor and then beat her “like an animal.”
And last year, a Muslim Gwinnett teacher was told to “hang yourself” with her headscarf.
Kasar Abdulla, the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the Valor Collgiate Academies in Nashville, Tennessee, told News 4 that the faculty in the school need to understand why the hijab is important to some students.
“It's a symbol of who you are, and it's a symbol of your faith, and it's a symbol of your identity. So, it needs to be accepted and recognized,” Abdulla, who offers Muslim diversity and sensitivity training to local schools, said.