A Florida high school teacher landed a five-day suspension for repeatedly calling a Muslim student “Taliban” and “terrorista,” but the county school board refused demands to fire her altogether.
Maria Valdes, a French teacher at Cypress Bay High School in Broward County, was suspended Tuesday, according to the Sun Sentinel. The move followed weeks of controversy after the student and his father went public with complaints that she routinely referred to 14-year-old Deyab-Houssein Wardani as “Taliban.”
A South Florida NBC station broadcast the story after a March 3 school board meeting.
On one occasion, when Wardani entered the classroom wearing a hoodie, Valdes told the rest of the class, “Here comes the rag-head Taliban.”
In an NBC interview, Wardani said the slur and other like it was particularly hurtful because until then, Valdes had been his favorite teacher.
Wardani’s father, Youssef Wardani, called the board’s suspension “disgusting,” and told the Sun Sentinel he is working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to seek legal action against the school district.
“I’ll keep sitting in their face until they recognize what they’ve done,” Wardani told the paper.
Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie apologized on behalf of the district. Runci, who is black, said he had experienced discrimination himself and understood how it can affect those on the receiving end of it.
“I hope you can understand, given my life experience, why I took this situation seriously,” he said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. “Any situation involving wrongful treatment of our students is something we absolutely don’t tolerate.”
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