All Delaware schools are on notice: don’t infringe on your students’ first amendment right to religious freedom, or we will take action.
On November 14, 2017 our client, a tenth-grade student at a Delaware high school was suspended because he chose to practice his Muslim faith in school.
The student arrived at school that day wearing a kufi—a small hat worn as a symbol of piety by some Muslim men and boys. The kufi caught the attention of the school’s administration.
The result was out-of-school suspension, harassing questioning of our client’s faith and a threat for further punitive action if our client continued to wear the kufi without a signed letter of approval from a Muslim leader.
Even though wearing a kufi is standard practice for many Muslims, our client believed that he should not have to get someone else to corroborate his personal religious beliefs. He’s correct.
ACLU-DE sent a letter that notified the school of their violation of our client’s First Amendment right to receive religious accommodation without unwarranted questioning or assessment.
We asked the school to:
- expunge our client’s disciplinary infraction for wearing the kufi;
- permit our client to wear a kufi in school when he chooses to do so;
- amend district policy and provide training on students’ religious freedom rights; and
- take appropriate steps to ensure that the administrator involved in this situation would no longer harass our client for his religious beliefs.
The school agreed to our requests.
The ACLU of Delaware is committed to protecting the religious freedom of all students in Delaware. We will take action against any school who tries to undermine a student’s right to practice religion, or not, as they choose.