Sep 11, 2008
Mike Puccinelli CHICAGO A Chicago teacher is under fire for singling out the only Muslim student in her class while talking about the Middle East. The teacher has now been reassigned to another school. However, the young boy's family is demanding answers.
CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports that the family met behind closed doors at Chicago Public Schools headquarters for two-and-a-half hours in a meeting presided over by a federal mediator. All sides have agreed to meet again next month.
The teacher in question is no longer working at the same school, but if the Pakistani-American family at the center of this story has their way, she might not be working much longer.
"He came home and before he even took his backpack off, he had tears in his eyes already," said Mohmmad Fahad Choudhary, victim's brother.
Mohmmad talks about the day his little brother came home from school saying his teacher had singled him out in front of his class as an example of a terrorist.
"She used the example of if Saleh were to go on to an airplane, put his backpack down and put two wires together and the plane were to blow up - and she didn't make a point," said Christina Abraham, Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Saleh Choudhary did not want to go on-camera to talk about the incident, which happened last April while he was a sixth-grader at Brentano Academy, but his brother says the 13-year-old's life hasn't been the same since.
"Everybody started teasing him and calling him a terrorist after the comments were made by the teacher," Mohmmad said.
Within days after the teacher allegedly made the comment during a history discussion, the family filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights.
Today, representatives from the federal government and CPS met with the family and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"The family does want her fired, they don't believe that she should be teaching students anymore," Abraham said.
The superintendent of Chicago Public Schools says lengthy suspension or possible termination is on the table.
"We have huge concerns about the conduct of the teacher," said Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. "From my standpoint, what happened is absolutely unacceptable and we're looking at some very severe sanctions because of that behavior."
As of right now, the teacher is still on the job at a different school. The teachers union says it will do whatever it takes to ensure that its members' rights to due process are fully enforced.
They also question the timing of today's announcement – on the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – but the family says today was simply the first day when all the parties could agree to meet.
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