NEW YORK, MAY 23: A Sikh student in New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against a Board of Education alleging that he dropped out of school because of bias-based bullying.
The student, who remains anonymous ashe is minor, has claimed that he was subjected to bias-based bullying because of his faith and was forced to permanently pull out of school due to the prolonged harassment.
Community-based organisation the Sikh Coalition said it has joined with co-counsel at the Law Offices of Brian M Cige to file a complaint against the Gloucester County Special Services School District Board of Education in Sewell in New Jersey.
The complaint alleges that the student suffered “under a pattern of bias-based bullying since 2018.”
“No student should experience what my child has gone through—not the bullying by fellow students, and certainly not the indifference, dismissiveness, or criticism of the adults who are meant to protect them,” said the student’s mother, who also remains anonymous to protect her child’s identity.
“I am hopeful that a civil court will recognise this clear case of bullying and take decisive action, both for the sake of my child and to create a safer learning environment for all students in this district,” said the child’s mother.
Despite being subjected to slurs based on his actual and perceived race, derogatory comments about his articles of faith, and other bullying and harassment to the point that he were permanently pulled out of school, the Sikh Coalition said in a statement.
The student’s pleas for help from the school district have been repeatedly brushed aside by educators and administrators, added the statement.
The suit calls for acknowledgement of the school district’s wrongdoing, training and processes to better recognise bias-motivated harassment in the future, and damages.
Top priority of the organisation is ensuring a safe path for the child to return to a healthy learning environment, said Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Giselle Klapper.
“However, it is also important that the School Board recognise and remedy how their investigation failed to acknowledge—let alone appropriately respond to—the obvious bias driving this bullying behaviour,” said Klapper.
This acknowledgment must be accompanied by new training and procedures to keep from repeating these mistakes in the future,” Klapper added.
Despite being members of the world’s fifth largest religion, Sikhs in the US are often subject to bias, bigotry and backlash, said the Sikh Coalition.
“This harassment often focuses on Sikhs’ visible articles of faith, including unshorn hair, head coverings, steel bracelets, and other items,” said the organization.
According to the results of 2014 survey by Sikh Coalition and a report entitled ‘Go Home, Terrorist’, the bullying of Sikh youth on the basis of their perceived and actual identity remains a “systemic problem” in the US.