Prosecutor: No Charges Against NJ Teacher for Removing Girl’s Hijab
MAPLEWOOD — There will be no criminal charges filed as a result of accusations that an elementary school teacher forcibly removed a student’s hijab this fall in Maplewood.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced on Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal prosecution in the case.
The incident at Seth Boyden Elementary School on Oct. 6 was reported by a parent of a second-grader, alleging her child’s teacher had removed the girl’s head covering during class.
Initial attention was drawn to the case in part by Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Maplewood native and friend of the family, getting involved.
The New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations also called for the teacher's immediate firing.
“Muslim students already deal with bullying from peers, it’s unthinkable that a teacher would add to their distress," CAIR-NJ Executive Director Selaedin Maksut said in a statement in October.
“Islamophobia in our public schools must be addressed in New Jersey and nationwide. Classrooms are a place for students to feel safe and welcome, not fear practicing their faith,” Maksut said.
Hats and other head coverings are not permitted unless for religious purposes or medical reasons, according to an online South Orange Maplewood student handbook.
The investigation was taken over by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which is responsible for investigating bias crimes.
“While we understand that many may find the incident troubling, as prosecutors we have a legal and moral obligation to only bring charges in cases where we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed,” the prosecutor's office said in a written statement.