The Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR) Greater Los Angeles office on Friday, November 6 welcomed Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District’s decision to ban the drawings of Prophet Muhammad and all religious leaders as part of student assignments.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News Palmdale resident Melinda Van Stone said she was “very upset” when her 12-year-old son brought home the assignment about two weeks ago.
“It’s not appropriate to have our children go to school and learn how to insult a religious group,” said Van Stone, a chiropractor.
After receiving complaints from Van Stone and CAIR-LA, District Superintendent Brent Woodward directed all staff to “permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depictions of any religious leader.”The Los Angeles Daily reported that Van Stone said the principal and district officials told her that the worksheet was part of a state-approved curriculum. However, High Desert School Principal Lynn David said the vocabulary worksheet is not a part of a textbook or other state-approved curriculum but is supplemental material.
The school had previously refused to respond to the parent’s complaint and defended the inclusion of the assignment in the curriculum. The parent contacted CAIR-LA after her child allegedly faced retaliation by school officials. CAIR-LA brought the matter to the public’s attention by inviting the parent to share her experience at a press conference on the release of the Muslim civil rights group’s new report on discrimination and bullying of California Muslim students.
CAIR-LA also followed up with the school and the superintendent by sending a letter of complaint. The letter reads in part, “As I am sure you are aware such bias in the curriculum creates the potential for unnecessary marginalization of Muslim students. If Muslim students do not feel respected or welcome in their school environment, they can feel disempowered and disconnected, leading to poor academic performance or low self-esteem.”
On Wednesday, the district superintendent and the school decided to reconsider its stance on the homework assignment.
“We welcome Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District’s recognition of the offensive nature of this assignment and for helping to create an inclusive learning environment for all students,” said CAIR-LA Senior Civil Rights Attorney Fatima Dadabhoy. “We will continue working to ensure that immediate steps are taken to prevent this type of incident from occurring in the future.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.