PEARLAND, Texas - A local family is outraged after they say their son was accused of making terroristic threats at school because of his religion.
The 6-year-old is a student at CJ Harris Elementary and has Down Syndrome. His family believes the child was targeted because he is Muslim, although the district denies that.
“He's very gentle, very affectionate,” said Maher Suleman about his son, Mohammed. “I love him and he loves me.”
If ever there was someone to fear, Suleman says that person is not his son. But according to Pearland Police, they were called to the school after a staff member claimed Mohammed pretended to shoot people with his hands while saying “Allah” and “boom.”
He was also accused of inappropriate touching.
Suleman says the accusations are ridiculous and that his son is mostly non-verbal, only able to say a few words.
“I think this is just mere discrimination and bigotry”, said Suleman.
Suleman and activist Quanell X say it boils down to racism.
“The [Pearland] Assistant Chief began to read the police report to me,” explained Quanell X, “She [Mohammed’s substitute teacher] said she believed he was making terroristic threats and that he's Muslim and that he comes from an Islamic family and they're probably teaching him that.”
A statement released from Pearland ISD denies a substitute teacher’s involvement and says the reasons for the report were “legally required”, but doesn’t explain why. It also states Mohammed was not adversely affected by school personnel.
“His whole family is now under investigation by CPS and you want to say to me, Pearland ISD, that child has not been adversely affected by a lie?” said Quanell X.
Police say they found no threat and the investigation was dropped; however, Child Protective Services was called as standard procedure and that investigation is on-going.
Suleman says during the investigation, his other son, who is 9, was pulled out of class and questioned about his religion and family to the point of tears.
“This is an educational institution. It's supposed to reflect a good example for the community…this is not the case,” said Suleman.
The family is asking for an apology and for employees to undergo tolerance training.
More of Pearland ISD’s statement is as follows:
“ - It is NOT true that a substitute teacher made a report of an incident with this child. The substitute teacher was not involved in any way with this report to the police.
- It is NOT true that this 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.
- 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.
- While we understand the police department may have referred this matter to CPS, we are bound by the same restrictions as are CPS officials with regard to the release of information.”