By News Desk
Hajah Bah and Fatmata Mansaray, both cousins and students of Freedom High School, Virginia, allege that the school administrators harassed them over their decision to don hijabs. PHOTO: INSIDE NOVA
Two Muslim students in a US school were allegedly sent home for wearing hijabs without carrying notes from parents.
Hajah Bah and Fatmata Mansaray, both cousins and students of Freedom High School, Virginia allege they were harassed by school administrators for donning hijabs. They said they were approached by a school administrator who told them they would require a note from a parents to prove they were covering their head for religious reasons.
When they pushed back against that assertion, they were sent to the principal’s office and then sent home. “Normally, I don’t wear the hijab at school, but this time I did because Ramazan fell during the school year and I was fasting,” Bah said in an interview. “But why do I need a note if it’s my religion?”
When news of the incident reached school division leaders, spokesperson Phil Kavits said they “immediately determined that it runs counter to the PWCS (Prince William County Publis Schools) commitment to diversity.” School officials have also apologised to both girls and their families.
PWCS was quoted by WJLA-TV as saying in a statement, “We regret the circumstances that led a Freedom High School administrator to question students about wearing a hijab or ask for proof of their religious reasons.
“The request was inconsistent with the PWCS commitment to diversity and religious freedom, and we apologise to anyone it may have offended.”
Kavits further said the issue stemmed from a misinterpretation of the school’s ‘Code of Beahviour’. He affirmed that “no student should have to have documentation to justify wearing religious articles,” but that explanation did not comfort Bah.
“I feel terrible,” Bah said. “They should know their own code of behavior.”
Mansara also alleges this incident is not the firm time she has been accosted by school administrators. She wears the hijab more frequently and said she has been approached many times.
“I would explain that it’s for a religious purpose, and they didn’t care,” Mansaray said in an interview. “I’d wear my hijab to school, and I’d be constantly told to take off my hijab.”
Since the incident, both girls said they have received apologies and even an outpouring of support from their fellow students. Bah said many of her classmates wore hijabs on June 2 as a sign of solidarity.
Kavits says the division’s current focus now is “on fixing any identified problems to make certain that all students, staff and community members feel welcome and respected in our schools.”
This story originally appeared on Washington Post.