MCPS discriminated against Muslim teacher who showed support for Palestinians: CAIR

Time Of Info By TOI Desk Report   December 12, 2023   Update on : December 12, 2023

Muslim school teacher
Muslim Arab middle school teacher Hajur El-Haggan. Photo: Screengrab

A discrimination complaint has been brought against Montgomery County Public Schools that placed a Muslim Arab middle school teacher on administrative leave for her email signature showing support for Palestinians, report CNN and The Washington Post.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, has filed the complaint on behalf of Hajur El-Haggan, the Black Muslim Arab American teacher in Maryland.

The council filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the MCPS, CAIR said in a news release about the complaint on Friday.

Over 30 people gathered near the MCPS Board of Education in Rockville Friday morning to show support for the school teacher.

MCPS employed Hajur El-Haggan as a middle school math teacher in 2015.

According to the complaint, the principal at Argyle Middle School the county November 20 informed Hajur El-Haggan that the school district was placing her on immediate leave because her email signature expressed political and personal views, which was against the employee code of conduct.

The teacher’s email signature included the phrase “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

According to the complaint, the phrase described it as “a call for Palestinian freedom, dignity, and self-determination, and means the ability to exist and move within the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

The complaint also mentioned that the slogan refers to Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza as Israel restricts them in their movements.

The school district’s policy on its website asks employees to maintain professional email signatures and abstain from “special stationery, quotations.

The complaint includes photos and screenshots of other email signatures from teachers at the school, including political and social justice quotes.

During a news conference in front of the MCPS Board of Education, Rawda Fawaz, El-Haggan’s attorney, said it is evident that El-Haggan received treatment that was significantly different from that of her non-Arab, non-Muslim coworkers who engaged in the same conduct.

During the news conference, El-Haggan said she offered the school to remove her signature. Denying the offer the county said her administrative leave was still in effect.


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