NEW YORK: A Sikh student bullied in an Atlanta (Georgia) school was called “Osama,” a “terrorist,” and “curryhead.” He was told by fellow students that he carried a “bomb on his head,” and should “go back to your country.”
His harassment continued even after an advocacy called Sikh Coalition warned the school system of legal action. Finally, the advocacy group knocked at the doors of the US Department of Justice.
Having investigated and found that the Sikh student – who cannot be named – had been tormented over a period of time, the US Department of Justice has now forced the DeKalb County School District – under which the Sikh boy’s school falls – to give an undertaking tin a settlement agreement to put in place measures to ensure the safety of the Sikh student.
Under the settlement announced Friday by the Department of Justice, the School District will immediately implement a safety plan to ensure that the student is safe at middle school and at high school. The safety plan will remain in effect until the end of the 2014-2015 school year,
The School District will also make available a Punjabi interpreter for the student’s parents and ensure all essential written documents are translated into Punjabi if requested.
Further, the School District, working with a consultant mutually agreed upon by the Department of Justice, must develop and implement mandatory age-appropriate anti-harassment training for all students and staff who interact with students at the middle school and high school. The training must include a discussion on the root causes of religious and national origin harassment and harms, including post-9/11 backlash and the perpetuation of negative stereotypes impacting the Sikh, Muslim, Arab-American, and South Asian communities.
The Department of Justice said it is also investigating whether the district’s anti-harassment policies meet federal standards, whether its policies are consistently implemented, and whether employees are adequately trained to implement those policies.