An open letter to the Pearland Independent School District

UPDATE:

The Daily Kos published an article yesterday with more context and information about this story. And, today I received an email from the PISD. Here’s the text of that email.

[Fox26 aired a story last week concerning a student attending our school alleging that the six year old child was mistreated because of his Muslim beliefs, and despite the child’s inability to communicate.

Based on student/family confidentiality law, we were only able to state to that TV station that we could not comment on such matters. However, we have since been advised that we can deny the various false assertions made in that TV story.

Specifically,

  • It is NOT true that a substitute teacher made a report of an incident with this child. The substitute teacher was not involved in any way with this report to the police.
  • It is NOT true that this child was in any way adversely affected by any school personnel.
  • The report to the police was NOT made because of the child’s or his parent’s religious beliefs or because of fears that the child would commit a terrorist act.
  • The reasons for the report to the police are serious and were legally required of the individual making the report — but those reasons cannot be revealed by the school district — without compromising student/family/employee confidentiality laws.
  • While we understand the police department may have referred this matter to CPS, we are bound by the same restrictions as are CPS officials with regard to the release of information.]

To the faculty and administration of the Pearland ISD,

I’m writing in response to an article I read today regarding a substitute teacher in the Pearland Independent School District and her abominable treatment of a 6-year-old Muslim boy with Down syndrome and his family.

Like many children with developmental disabilities, Mohammad Suleiman faces obstacles in his life. These challenges are compounded by the racial and cultural discrimination he faces as a Muslim child in this country.

As educators, like me, I have no doubt you know the importance of caring for each and every child who is entrusted to our care in our schools. It is up to us to ensure that the children we teach are respected, cared for, and nurtured, and that we demonstrate through our actions our opposition to injustice and discrimination of any kind. The actions of the substitute teacher in claiming that this developmentally disabled six-year-old child is a terrorist are not only absurd, they are deeply disturbing, deeply damaging to him and his family, and set an example that blatant discrimination and racism is acceptable.

There is no greater task in our lives as humans than to take care of each other, to stand up for each other against injustice, and to treat each person with the dignity and respect they deserve. This child deserves your respect. He did not deserve to be put through such a horrible ordeal with police and CPS, nor did his family deserve the pain and anguish they have suffered as a result of this substitute teacher’s ignorance.

You have a responsibility to protect your students. Take that responsibility seriously. Take a stand against racism and discrimination. Take immediate and severe action against the substitute teacher, and do everything in your power to take care of Mohammad and his family.

Sincerely,

Catie Magee
San Francisco, CA