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Capital School District to hold sensitivity training after anti-Muslim bullying incidents

Central Middle School in Dover, DE.
Paul Kiefer
Delaware Public Media
Central Middle School in Dover, DE.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is working with Capital School District after a Muslim middle school student reported bullying by her teacher and classmates.

The 14-year-old Central Middle School student said earlier this month her teacher and classmates bullied her for fasting and wearing a head covering during Ramadan.

CAIR-Philadelphia and the Islamic Society of Central Delaware plan to provide sensitivity trainings for the district’s faculty and staff, and hold listening sessions with Muslim students after the end of the fasting month of Ramadan in May.

Dr. Ahmet Tekelioglu, the outreach and education director for CAIR-Philadelphia, says his office has received a growing number of reports of anti-Muslim harassment in schools in the past several years. "Several of our offices [that] were able to do surveys of their students found that bullying by teachers and administrators continues to be prevalent," he said.

The student’s mother, Kristina Sellers, says that while the district’s response is a step in the right direction, Capital’s superintendent has not said if they plan to discipline the teacher. "She will not give us any information regarding disciplinary actions for my daughter's teacher," she said. "But we've all agreed that my daughter will be working remotely until she's comfortable coming back into the building."

Sellers adds that some of the district’s Muslim students began wearing religious clothing to school during Ramadan, leaving them more visible and vulnerable to harassment. Her daughter is not the only student to experience mistreatment by staff and faculty, she said.

Capital School District Superintendent Dr. Vilicia
Cade offered an official apology for the incident last week.

Paul Kiefer comes to Delaware from Seattle, where he covered policing, prisons and public safety for the local news site PubliCola.