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Teacher accused of calling student 'terrorist'

HOUSTON – A Fort Bend County probationary teacher has been placed on leave following an incident at First Colony Middle School. The incident involves a 12-year-old student who said he was humiliated by his teacher's comments.

"I was upset and I feel like I was put in the corner and everyone just looking at me," said Waleed Abushaaban, a 7th grade student.

Abushaaban said the class was watching the movie "Bend It Like Beckham" after completing the STAAR test. Abushaaban said when he laughed during the movie his teacher told him he shouldn't laugh because "everyone thinks you're a terrorist."

He said he gave his teacher a chance to apologize but he said she told him she didn't want to speak with him and to go to the principal's office and call his father. Abushaaban said as he was leaving, his classmates taunted him.

"They said, 'Oh I see a bomb,' and they all started laughing, making jokes," said Abushaaban.

The boy's father, Malek Abushaaban, said he believes his son was stereotyped simply because he's Muslim.

"He's an American, he's as American as anybody else. He was born here, that's all he knows, is how to be an American," said Malek Abushaaban.

Community activist Quanell X joined the family in calling for the teacher's firing and sensitivity training for the students.

"That is nothing more than religious bigotry and hate," said Quanell X.

In a statement to KPRC, Fort Bend Independent School District officials wrote, "On Thursday, March 31, 2016, the District was informed of parent concerns regarding offending remarks reportedly made by a probationary teacher. The District does not support the teacher’s actions, and when school administrators learned of the incident, they immediately removed the teacher from the classroom and placed her on administrative leave pending completion of the District’s review of this matter.

While the teacher reports her statements were made in the context of trying to make a point about negative stereotypes, District officials do not believe that the teacher exercised the appropriate sensitivity expected of the District’s educators, and do not believe that the statements were made in a manner that is in keeping with the District’s Core Beliefs and Commitments. 

The District is proud of its rich cultural diversity and this isolated event is not representative of the positive learning experiences that the District's teachers provide to our nearly 74,000 students each and every day."