Religion
Religion

Five-Day Suspension For Teacher Who Called Student 'Raghead Taliban'

| by Arthur Kogan

Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida suspended a French teacher for five days without pay for allegedly calling a Muslim student a “raghead Taliban’’ when he walked into class.

Maria Valdes has been teaching in the area for 11 years and will now attend a diversity training program along with the five-day suspension.

“My son is Deyab-Houssein Wardani, (and) he’s not a raghead Taliban,” said Youssef Wardani to the school board, the father of the 14-year-old student who he describes to be of Lebanese and Moroccan descent. “I promise you for the rest of my life, until my dying breath, I’m going to make sure no child goes through what my Deyab-Houssein had to go through,” he said after the meeting.

Youssef made it clear he was upset with the suspension which he referred to as a “five-day vacation.” Youssef pushed for a year-long suspension or termination of Valdes for the racist comments toward his son and did not shy away from showing his disappointment in the decision.

“I take a lot of exception to any statement, or suggestion that somehow this administration and school board did nothing or was ever lax in our response,” said Superintendent Robert W. Runcie, who responded to Youssef’s claim that the school board did not act swiftly enough. “To the contrary, this matter was taken very seriously and was addressed with an appropriate sense of urgency.”

According to the administrative complaint filed by Runcie, Valdes stated, “Ah no! The Taliban is here,” when Deyab-Houssein would walk into the classroom at the school. She’d also called him out, saying, “OK the Taliban, what is the answer?” and “Let’s ask the Taliban.” It also cites instances in which the teacher referred to the student as “the Taliban" on several other occasions.

According to the Miami Herald, Deyab-Houssein said other students laughed when she made her remark. He said he didn’t know the teacher was referring to him by the name of a terrorist organization until he asked his parents what the Taliban is, following the first incident. After learning what the name meant, his response was: “This is definitely not funny.”

Youssef reportedly reached out to the FBI because he is still evidently unhappy with the decision of the school board. He claims it did not take enough disciplinary action on Valdes who has had no previous disciplinary actions against her.

“We never asked for money, the only thing we asked for is a proper decision,” said Youssef when he spoke during the meeting.

SunSentinel reports that protestors had gathered outside of the Broward School Board to support Youssef and his son in their efforts in seeking greater disciplinary action against the teacher than just a five-day suspension without pay.

"I think it's a huge issue that teachers are allowed to call students derogatory terms," said Florida International University student Nandee Shabazz, of Miramar, Florida. "I'm Muslim and in times like these, we need to stick together."

"We want to make the School Board aware that this is not going away," said Youssef. "Offensive remarks in this day and age are unacceptable."

Sources: Miami Herald, SunSentinel     

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons