A New Jersey teacher accused of removing a student’s hijab sues Olympic fencer and others in U.S. court, seeks class-action status
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in federal court in Pennsylvania, an American Olympian, a Philadelphia police officer and seven other people are suing a New Jersey middle school teacher who is accused of removing a student’s hijab and of giving the student negative grades in his class.
The eight defendants are: the U.S. Olympic Committee, which maintains a list of all the world’s best athletes, and several people who attended the middle school, including the teacher, the student, his parents and the parent of a student who is a friend of the teacher.
The lawsuit seeks relief for two students who have been punished for wearing hijabs and faces punishment for wearing the niqab — a face covering — because their parents didn’t allow them to wear it. It has been brought on behalf of the two students for the alleged violations.
The complaint also alleges the removal of the student’s hijab violated his civil right to free speech and that the other defendants helped in or encouraged the teacher’s violation of his civil rights.
It’s unclear whether any of the allegations are true. The complaint alleges the teacher was not allowed to follow the student’s instructions or to correct the students’ work.
The plaintiffs seek class-action status because students at their school were subject to discipline for wearing hijabs, and the school allegedly failed to prevent other students from wearing them, the lawsuit alleges.
The complaint accuses the principal of giving the teacher a pass on the hijab in exchange for a letter of recommendation to the head of the school’s middle school.
The student’s parents say they wanted him to be able to attend the middle school after he had been expelled from high school and was suspended from school for being disruptive.
The parents say the teacher and others at the middle school used their position as teachers to try to “discourage” the student from wearing the niqab, the face covering. On May 17, the complaint alleges, the student was summoned to the principal’s office by a teacher who complained that the student was wearing a niqab, with the teacher writing notes in the student’s book that the student was not taking the “correct path” with his math. The teacher told the student’s parents that the student had been wearing a niqab.
The teacher allegedly