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Pearland Substitute Teacher Believed 6-year-old Muslim Student Was a Terrorist


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Update, November 6, 2017, 12:45 p.m.:

Kim Hocott, a spokeswoman for Pearland ISD, issued a statement to the Current regarding the original report aired on Fox26, saying it was "NOT true" that a substitute teacher had made a report of an incident with this child, that the substitute teacher was not involved in any way with the report to the police, and that it is "NOT true" the child was in any way adversely affected by any school personnel.

"The report to the police was NOT made because of the child's or his parent's religious beliefs or because of fears that the child would commit a terrorist act," Hocott said in an email. "The reasons for the report to the police are serious and were legally required of the individual making the report - but those reasons cannot be revealed by the school district — without compromising student/family/employee confidentiality laws."

Original story:

A substitute teacher in Pearland, Texas allegedly called the police last month because she feared a 6-year-old Muslim student with Down Syndrome was a terrorist.

According to his substitute elementary school teacher, Mohammad Suleiman said “Allah” and “boom” multiple times under her watch, prompting her to call the police. Mohammad’s father, Maher Suleiman, said his son does not speak.

“This is so stupid. It’s discrimination, actually. It’s not implied discrimination, it’s actual discrimination,” Maher told Fox26, who first reported the story. Texas' Child Protective Services has since opened an investigation into the Suleiman family.

Mohammad is a student at C.J. Harris Elementary School in Pearland, south of Houston. According to his father, he has intellectual difficulties and needs constant care.

The Pearland Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they told Fox26 they saw no need to get involved after briefly looking into the case.

Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil liberties organization, told the Current he had confirmed the incident took place a few weeks ago through several sources in Pearland. Carroll said CAIR had not spoken to the Suleiman family because they wanted to respect their privacy, and they had not gotten involved because they hoped the school district would do something about the incident.

“It’s unbelievable. I just don’t get it,” Carroll said. “It’s hard. You want to be pretty balanced in these type of things — but this is just outrageous.”

Maher Suleiman told Fox26 that the last couple of weeks had been the hardest of his life, saying his wife and children had spent time crying after the incident.

The substitute teacher has not been publicly identified, and it is unclear if she is still employed by the district. The Pearland Independent School District did not immediately respond to the Current's request for comment.

“This is one of those cases [where] I would say this person should never be around kids again,” Carroll said. “To call the police on him — man, the more I think about it, the worse it gets, because it’s just so outrageous. I’ve never heard of nothing like this, ever.”

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