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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Muslim girl's story at odds with police report



A police report in the case of the Muslim girl who says she was threatened at Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg is at odds with the girl’s story.

The report filed Monday by Officer William Stone states that an assistant principal at Azalea interviewed the girl after she reported that a boy in her science class threatened to bring a BB gun to school and shoot her.

The assistant principal told Stone he asked the girl if she was threatened in any way and she said no. The administrator also said he asked her if the boy said he was going to bring anything to school and she said no. The report also says the boy was disciplined for pulling off the girl’s head scarf earlier in the week.

Stone is an officer with the St. Petersburg Police Department who also serves as the school resource officer at Azalea.

The girl, whose first name is Hannah, was at school district headquarters today to take her case to the School Board. In an interview with the Times, she said no one at the school interviewed her about the threat.

“I feel mad at them,” she said. “How could they say such a thing?”

She added: “I didn’t talk to them and they didn’t talk to me.”

According to the report, the boy said “he and Hannah are friends and he would not have threatened her.”

Hannah was accompanied at school district headquarters by her mother and Ahmed Bedier, executive director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In an interview, Bedier said he became concerned about the district's response to the girl's claim that the same boy who pulled off her headscarf threatened to get a gun and shoot her.

Bedier said Superintendent Clayton Wilcox emailed him yesterday and asked him to "be patient." He said Wilcox told him the district would be formulating an answer on the situation by the end of the day today.

Bedier said the girl will stay home from school until the matter is resolved.

The sixth-grader planned to speak to the school board during the public comment segment later this afternoon. Bedier and Hannah's mother, Maria, planned to address the board as well.

"We hope to appeal to the School Board to make sure the district follows its own zero tolerance policy," Bedier said. "In our opinion, that has not been done."

- Donna Winchester and Thomas C. Tobin, Times education reporters

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:26am]


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