New York school forced Muslim boy to watch friends eat while fasting for Ramadan as punishment: Complaint
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: A nine-year-old Muslim boy was allegedly made to watch his friends eating while fasting for Ramadan in a school in Bay Ridge.
The incident occurred in P. S. 264 on May 14, according to a complaint by civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against the Department of Education on Wednesday, November 13.
According to Patch, CAIR said that his faith had been "weaponized" against him after a school worker allegedly told the boy, "You must sit in the cafeteria. Watch all the kids eat while you are fasting."
The boy, who has been identified as I.A. in court papers, had reportedly gone home and cried in his mother Zaman Mashrah's arms as he was deeply upset about the incident.
"I trusted P.S. 264 to treat my son with dignity and respect," said Mashrah. "Instead, my child had his religion used against him as a form of punishment."
The mother had complained to the principal of the school, Marisa Bolognino, but there had been no action taken, the complaint said. She then filed a complaint with the DOE's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management for discrimination against her son, but no ruling has been undertaken, the complaint alleged.
"I expected the Department of Education to have our backs and protect my child," Mashrah reportedly said, "The only person that has been protected is the staff member that bullied and abused a nine-year-old boy."
According to the suit, the mother had also been discriminated by the school since last year after being denied the position of the PTA treasurer. Also, while the school staff decorated the premises on Easter and Hannukkah, they refused to do so for Ramadan, even when they were called by City Councilmember Justin Brannan's office.
"I hope this matter is settled swiftly and that a just outcome for all parties is reached," the council member said when asked for comments by the news outlet, saying that he does not want to comment on an ongoing legal matter. "A school employee weaponized Ms. Mashrah's son's religious practice," said Ahmed Mohamed, CAIR-NY Litigation Director, "When given an opportunity to live up to its obligations, the Department of Education failed Ms. Mashrah and her child."
New York City Department of Education spokesperson Isabelle Boundy has said that the complaint is under review. "These very concerning allegations were immediately reported for investigation," Boundy said, "Schools must be safe, supportive and inclusive environments."