Advocacy group says district failed to respond to anti-Muslim bullying

EL CAJON (KUSI ) — A civil rights advocacy group is speaking out on behalf of an East County family who says their 14-year-old daughter was bullied and attacked because she is Muslim.

The student who attended Greenfield Middle School in El Cajon was called “a terrorist” and mocked for wearing hijab, the traditional head covering worn by Muslim women.

Her family came to the United States in 2016 as refugees fleeing from war-torn Syria.

Advocates for the family associated with the group called Council on Islamic American Relations, known as CAIR, held a news conference to detail the bullying, which culminated in an assault at the family’s home earlier this year.

According to Mejgan Afshan, CAIR’s advocacy and policy coordinator, a group of 8-10 children began following Sidra home from school. Afshan said the harassment continued to escalate and led to a physical assault on Sidra and both of her parents at their home on March 20.

In a statement read by CAIR’s civil rights coordinator, Sondos Afifi, the girl’s father said, “I was unable to do anything but attempt to close the door. However, they kept forcibly pushing out at the door until eventually it broke and they again attacked my wife. I have videos- evidence in the attack.”

The assault which reportedly included hitting the parents and the student, was reported to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the middle school and the Cajon Valley Union School District.

The family met with school officials including the principal, Greg Calvert. When representatives of CAIR said they tried to sit down with the principal, they say they were told to leave.

Superintendent David Miyashiro, who heads the Cajon Valley Union School District said there was a third party, independent investigation and that the district did everything it was obligated to do, “both by statute and in the best interest of the child’s family.” Miyashiro said, ” I can say if they violated school rules or the school ed code, the appropriate punishment would have been applied.”

When we asked if any violations had been determined, Miyashiro replied, ” I’m not allowed to confirm or deny they took place or not.”

CAIR called for the dismissal of Calvert, the school principal, and an update to the district’s anti-bullying policies, that would include education about Muslim practices, including the wearing of hijab.

The Muslim-American advocacy group said it was deeply troubled by reports that other Muslim students at the same school are also being bullied and harassed.

Categories: Local San Diego News