A teacher who reportedly removed a student’s hijab at the Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey, will not face criminal charges, authorities said on Wednesday.
According to PIX11 news, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office decided not to move forward with criminally prosecuting the educator due to insufficient evidence in the case. The prosecutor’s office stated that they could not prove that a crime had been committed beyond a reasonable doubt.
“While we understand that many may find the incident troubling, as prosecutors, we have a legal and moral obligation to only bring charges in cases where we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime has been committed. For those reasons, we will not move forward with this case,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
News Onyx previously reported that the incident occurred on Oct. 6, 2021, when the teacher removed seven-year-old Sumayyah Wyatt’s hijab from her head during class without her consent.
According to reports, the teacher removed the hijab from Wyatt’s head after she refused to take it off. The young girl’s parents were outraged after learning what happened to their daughter while attending school.
“Ultimately, the teacher succeeds in pulling the hijab off her head, followed by a bizarre statement which is, ‘Your hair is beautiful,’” then the family’s attorney said. “It is incredibly disturbing. It is very, very symbolic of disregard of her religion and certainly something that has affected my clients overall.”
Wyatt’s mother, Cassandria, said the incident has caused the young girl to be fearful of wearing Muslim attire in public.
“I have to go introduce her to a different world that I’ve been trying to protect her from,” Cassandra said. “She had to know that was a hijab; she has to pay for that. I’d love for her to apologize to my daughter, and then my daughter would feel better.”
The teacher’s attorney said the claims were false, and she was not aware that Wyatt was wearing a hijab.
“In accordance with school policy, (the teacher) directed a student in her class to pull down the hood on what appeared to be a hooded sweatshirt because it was blocking her eyes – and immediately rescinded that request when she realized that the student was wearing the hood in place of, rather than on top of, her usual hijab,” the lawyer said.
New allegations against the teacher surfaced weeks after the incident. Wyatt’s attorney revealed a series of documented complaints, including her allegedly throwing a Black student’s water bottle in the trash and defending a white student during a snack situation.