Fairfax County teacher accused of removing student's hijab will return to classroom

- A teacher who was placed on leave after a Muslim student said her hijab was removed from her head by the teacher will return to the classroom after the Thanksgiving break, according to Fairfax County Public Schools.

Last week, the Lake Braddock Secondary School student posted on Twitter claiming that the teacher was ripped off by the teacher. She tweeted, “so my hijab was ripped off my head today. By a teacher I appreciated and valued. I was in a middle of a conversation with my friend and HE came from behind me and pulled it off. Then he says ‘Oh your hair is so pretty’ and tries to play it off like it’s a joke. When clearly he should know better because HE’S a grown (expletive) man and shouldn't even be touching students. I felt so infuriated, upset, and mostly shocked because he did this to me.”

The student's tweet even gained the attention of Chelsea Clinton, who tweeted, "I am so sorry this happened.”

However, another Lake Braddock student tweeted that the incident was an accident.

After it was reported, the unidentified teacher was placed on leave and an investigation was conducted, the school district said.

On Wednesday, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand said in a letter home to Lake Braddock parents that their investigation found the teacher made a mistake and will return to the classroom.

Dear Lake Braddock Secondary School Parents, 

It is my expectation that all Fairfax County Public Schools staff act with the utmost professionalism at all times. I have stated this expectation clearly since my arrival.

Unfortunately, a situation occurred at Lake Braddock Secondary School (LBSS) last week that did not meet my expectations. Based on the investigation of the events, a long-serving and well respected teacher made a mistake. While there does not appear to be any intent to act maliciously, nor to engage in any disrespect or infringement on religious beliefs, the teacher did violate FCPS policies and practices. The teacher has been disciplined, was placed on leave, and will return to the classroom following the Thanksgiving break. Due to personnel confidentiality laws we will not elaborate beyond these facts.  

I also want to reinforce the message Principal Thomas shared on Friday, that we expect a welcoming and safe environment for all students. Bullying and cyberbullying are violations of the FCPS Student Rights and Responsibilities regulation and the rules of conduct apply off school property and outside school hours if the conduct is detrimental to the school or affects school discipline. We will take any violations seriously. 

The administrators at Lake Braddock responded quickly to this incident and will continue to work with students to quickly investigate any concerns about their personal safety or that of their peers.  

It is my sincere belief that LBSS will embrace all those involved in this incident and emerge a stronger community with an increased sense of understanding and respect for all members of the FCPS family.

Please have a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said that the Muslim student encountered cyberbullying after the incident was reported.

In a letter sent to Fairfax County Public School and the principal, CAIR wrote in part: "While the FCPS conducts its investigation into [the teacher's] actions, students and at least one Lake Braddock teacher have waged a social media campaign to intimidate and bully [the Muslim student]. Additionally, students held a protest to support the accused teacher during school hours on November 17, 2017, and during which an administrator acted in a manner that puts the credibility of the FCPS investigation in doubt.”

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