Academy of Excellence, a public charter school in Phoenix, Arizona, is currently under investigation after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint against one of its teachers.
The report is being filed by, Asli Noor, a student's mother, who is a Somali and Muslim refugee. The complaint outlines what her son underwent during his time at the school, identifying him only by his initials, A.A.
According to the ACLU, A.A was 11 years old in 2015 when his teacher, Faye Myles, began to single him out in class. It started when Myles forbade A.A. from speaking during free time when other students were allowed to talk. When A.A. continued to talk to a classmate, Myles assaulted the child, grabbing his throat until his eyes watered. Myles reportedly tried to intimidate him from telling his mother by saying "If you tell your mom, watch what happens next." Despite the threat, A.A. immediately told his mother.
When Noor approached the school's director about the assault the following day, Myles entered the director's office and began shouting that she did not choke the child. Despite the director's promises to Noor that the case would be thoroughly investigated, nothing came of it.
Myles went on to bully the child, targeting him when she showed a video of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. "That's going to be you," she pointed at the screen. Myles banned A.A. and other Muslim students from praying during recess and refused to call on A.A. when he raised his hand in class.
The bullying came to a head in January 2016 when Myles went on a rant after A.A. raised his hand to answer a question. "All you Muslims think you are so smart," she said. "I can't wait until Trump is elected. He is going to deport all you Muslims. Muslims shouldn't be given visas." She went on, "They'll probably take away your visa and deport you. You're going to be the next terrorist, I bet."
Following the teacher's example, A.A.'s fellow students accused him of plotting to blow up their school bus, leaving A.A. depressed, afraid, and humiliated at school.
Noor again approached the school's director about Myles' behavior and was promised a thorough investigation. Instead, three days later, Noor was called into the school's office and the director accused A.A. of trying to open the school bus' emergency windows. When Noor asked the school to look at the security footage on the bus, the director claimed that the cameras had been off during the incident. The director then forced Noor to sign "voluntary" withdrawal forms, forcing A.A. and his younger sister who also attended Academy of Excellence, out of the school.
Since the complaint was filed on Friday, the school has denied all claims that Myles has behaved inappropriately, even though other students have since reported her being racist to them, referring to them by their national origins and accusing some of trying to build a bomb in the school's bathroom. Myles' staff profile, which included her email address has since been removed from the school's website.
Myles reportedly stated to the Arizona police that A.A. is "very manipulative" and the school continues to stand by her. An ACLU attorney, Heather Weaver called the case, "one of the most egregious cases of harassment that we’ve seen."
Aggressive, Islamophobic behavior like Myles' has become normalized during this election by people like Donald Trump, whose comments about Muslims, immigrants, and refugees have already been wreaking havoc in classrooms across the country. The Noor family's case is far from the first of its kind, and thanks to the mainstreaming of Islamophobia, won't be the last.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS, Lyle Stafford