Chartiers Valley officials 'appalled and disturbed' by assault on hijab-wearing student
The Chartiers Valley School District — where a video of a student beating a classmate who was wearing a hijab inside the high school bathroom has spread across social media and made national headlines — will continue educating students and staff on tolerance, acceptance and kindness, district leaders say.
Since 2015, the district has partnered with the Anti-Defamation League and the two meet regularly to “review and gather resources for educating students and staff on tolerance, acceptance and kindness,” Mikaela Duckstein, director of communications and strategic partnerships for the district, said in an email to the Signal Item.
The Anti-Defamation League programs, such as its “No Place for Hate” initiative, promote “inclusion, acceptance and kindness through friendship/team building lessons, assemblies and kindness challenges,” Duckstein said.
An example was a recent “Mix it up lunch” where students sat with peers they don’t know very well, rather than their friends, in an effort to gain appreciation for others “at the very least,” Duckstein said. “And maybe some new friendships.”
All schools in the district have been recognized as “No Place for Hate” schools by the Anti-Defamation League.
“No Place for Hate” events and activities include faculty, students and parents at all buildings, Duckstein said.
District leaders in a statement said they are “appalled and disturbed by the incident” that occurred at the high school.
In the widely watched video, a girl wearing a purple shirt can be seen striking a girl wearing a hijab and saying, “You’re lucky you’re from another language, I would crush you, (expletive).”
WPXI, the Trib’s news partner, reported that the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Pittsburgh is calling on lawmakers to investigate the case as a possible hate crime. They reported the victim moved to the United States four years ago after spending more than two years in refugee camps in Syria.
Collier police told the Trib that charges are pending in connection with the incident.
“At this point, there is no indication that the incident is racially or religiously motivated or involves any kind of hate crime,” Collier police Chief Craig Campbell said in a statement.
Chartiers Valley, in its statement, said the district, “in cooperation with law enforcement, is taking swift action for the safety and security of our students. Consequences will be enforced to the fullest extent, according to district policy and the law.”
Duckstein said the district could not provide additional details regarding student discipline, in the interest of maintaining student confidentiality.
“While alarming, this isolated incident is not a true reflection of the student body at Chartiers Valley School District,” she said.
Through the Anti-Defamation League, faculty members also participate in the annual “World of Difference” day.
The district hosts an annual “Celebrate CV!” event where representatives from the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and Turkish Community Center, among others, share cultural experiences, Duckstein said.
“We will continue the training and programming we have done for years and continue to implement new ideas and programs under the direction of the Anti-Defamation League,” she said.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributor.