French Teacher Suspended, Not Fired, For Calling Student ‘Taliban,’ Father Upset [Update]

A French teacher was suspended in Florida for her comments about an ethnic student. The father of Deyab-Houssein Wardani doesn’t feel the punishment is harsh enough for calling his son a “rag-head Taliban” simply for being a Muslim.

As his father Youssef Wardani told the press, he is of Lebanese and Moroccan descent, making him Muslim.

Wardani, 14, had entered his French class at Cypress Bay High School wearing a hooded sweatshirt last month, and was greeted with names insinuating he was a terrorist. His father thinks that the school’s five-day suspension without pay is a “five-day vacation” instead of a punishment.

After Youssef told school board members what the teacher, Maria Valdes, called his son, they unanimously voted to punish the teacher. In lieu of firing her as the father wanted, the school board voted to have the French teacher suspended.

Tensions over Muslims and Arabs mostly escalated after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when two members of Taliban crashed passenger planes into the World Trade Center. Ever since, there have been problems for ethnic groups who have been mistaken for what French teacher Maria Valdes called “terrorista,” which means “terrorist” in Spanish. Even Indian comedian Russell Peters has admitted in his stand-up routines that he’s been treated differently because of it.

Sadly, the resultant racial profiling has been the norm, even though it’s wrong. Youssef Wardani feels it’s his mission to put an end to it, at least at the school, according to the Miami Herald.

“I promise you for the rest of my life, until my dying breath, I’m going to make sure no child goes through what my Deyab-Houssein had to go through.”

During the board meeting where Maria Valdes’ discipline was under discussion, Youssef accused them of not acting soon enough. According to Miami’s Local 10 News, he told them they all “should be removed for bullying.”

Youssef Wardani’s anger over having the French teacher suspended instead of fired was understandable.

During Youssef’s words with the school board, superintendent Robert Runcie was personally accused of not taking the case seriously. Runcie fired back at the angry father, telling him that as a Jamaican immigrant, his own childhood was shaken by racial discrimination when he nearly lost his mother to a gunshot in the face.

Broward County Public Schools superintendent Robert Runcie concluded the meeting with the following statement.

“I believe that we’ve handled this case appropriately and I urge the board to approve the recommended disciplinary action.”

Do you think the school board voted appropriately in having the French teacher suspended for five days without pay? Should Maria Valdes have been fired instead for calling a Muslim student “Taliban”?

[Image via CBS Local]