A litigation jihad battle between a Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey and Sireen Hashem, a former teacher there is getting even uglier. She says that she was fired because she is a Palestinian Muslim and her religion “causes trouble.”
Arab American News Sireen Hashem, a Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, taught US history at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, New Jersey from 2013 until she was fired in April 2015.
In the meeting with Hashem, former Superintendent of Schools, Christina Steffner referred to Hashem’s classroom use in October 2013 of a video about Malala Yusufazi, the teenage Pakistani activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for her human rights campaign after being targeted for assassination by the Taliban. (Malala is an anti-Israel activist who donated $50,000 of her prize winnings to Hamas in Gaza)
Hashem showed the video in her class after she saw another history teacher, Lindsay Warren, using the video. When Hashem asked why Warren was allowed to use the video, Steffner said, “You’re not Lindsay,” the suit said.
After she showed the video, Robert Zywicki, her supervisor, told her the school had received a complaint about the video from a parent. Zywick then told her “she could not teach current events in the same manner as her non-Arab, non-Palestinian and non-Muslim colleagues,” the lawsuit claimed.
Furthermore, the district claimed that she was not sticking to the curriculum, and questioned her about her teaching and accused her of “discriminating against Jewish students.”
The lawsuit also claims that she was told that she should not mention Islam or the Middle East in her class after she asked students to compare the actions of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry to the actions of Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2001. Hashem claims she was also told not to bring “her culture, life experience or background into the classroom.” Again, a parent complained to Principal Susan Cooley about the lesson.
The following school year, in September 2014, a student “posted allegations that plaintiff’s brother was a terrorist on Facebook. He also posted that plaintiff was anti-Israel, was attempting to instill anti-Semitic views in students and warned that plaintiff may hurt students who did not agree with her,” Hashem said in the complaint, according to Courthouse News.
In response, Hashem was paged to the principal’s office, where the teacher was “confronted” by Cooley and defendant school Superintendent Cristina Steffner, “who accused her of not sticking to the curriculum, and accused her of discriminating against Jewish students.
In April 2015, Rebecca Lucas, who became Hashem’s supervisor after Zywicki left, told her that her contract was not going to be renewed because the district “wanted her gone.” Lucas also handed Hashem a poor evaluation and told her that was the reason she was not going to be given a new contract, according to the lawsuit. Hashem went to the school board to appeal the decision not to renew her contract but the board did not override the recommendation.
In mid-July, two FBI agents came to Hashem’s home and told her they had heard that Hashem said at the June meeting that “they would be sorry” if she was fired. Hashem denied making the statements to the FBI agents.
Hashem is asking for the school district to give her job back, reimburse her for back pay, benefits and pension payments and compensatory damages. Hashem was making $60,525 a year at Hunterdon Central. The lawsuit got uglier this week in court this week when Attorneys for the school district filed subpoenas for the employment records of Hashem from her present employers.
While Hashem’s attorney, Clifford Mulqueen, argues that the subpoenas are a “fishing expedition,” the school district contends that the prior and current employment records are relevant because the district has “heard that (Hashem) is running into the same problems with her new employer as she did while employed with (Hunterdon Central).”
If you can’t get the video below, click this link: http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2015/12/18/sireen-hasem-teacher-fired-for-showing-malala-video-interview-ctn.cnn