A New Jersey teaching assistant was suspended by the Ridgefield School District after an alleged incident last week in which a Muslim-American student claimed he was called a terrorist after asking a question during a math class.
The school district did not go into detail about what took place, but they did confirm that the staff member is suspended while it conducts a full investigation into the matter.
Mohammed Zubi, a senior at Ridgefield Memorial High School, said the class was working on a project last Wednesday and he raised his hand to ask if students could have more time to finish the assignment when the assistant teacher allegedly responded saying, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, in New Jersey, spoke on behalf of the family. “It perpetuates the stereotypes against Arabs and Muslims and that, for the past 20 years, this is what organizations like CAIR and others have been trying to combat,” Maksut said on Tuesday. “You’d like to think that 20 years later these would be dying down. But here they are, being used by a teacher in a classroom, so it’s very alarming to see.”
The Ridgefield School District said in a statement that it “has absolutely no tolerance for any sort discrimination against any student or staff member” and that it strives “to create an inclusive environment where students’ and staff members’ race, religion, national origin and sexual orientation are embraced.”
The teacher, who has been suspended while the district investigates, “intends to pursue any and all legal remedies,” it added. A representative for the New Jersey Education Association, the union that represents public school teachers, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.