#1 Teacher’s Alleged Assault on 10-Year-Old Student During ‘Islamic Hand Sign’ Lesson10-19-2012, 03:46 PM
UPDATE: Tara Harris’ husband Dale Harris told WAVY-TV that the allegations against his wife are untrue.
“It’s a lie… an outright lie,” he said.
Stephanie Bennett, the mother of the 10-year-old that Harris is accused of assaulting, alleges in court documents that Harris had been teaching the Muslim hand gesture for “power and strength.”
Dale Harris told WAVY-TV that the school first alerted his wife to the claims that she was teaching Muslim culture in her class.
“She said, ‘Dale, I’ve been accused of teaching the children Muslim hand gestures, playing Muslim music and praying five times a day,’” he said.
Dale said his wife is not a Muslim.
“This is defamation of character by people who she doesn’t know, she’s never seen, and Chesapeake city schools is not standing behind her,” he said.
Chesapeake Public Schools has declined to comment on the case. A spokesperson said Harris has been suspended and her pay is being put into an escrow account.
As PilotOnline.com points out, “the officials who could either support the claims, or debunk them, are saying nothing.”
TheBlaze first reported about a Virginia teacher who has been charged with simple assault after a parent accused her of injuring her daughter’s hand while forcing the class to learn an “Islamic hand sign.”
Tara Harris, who joined Butts Intermediate School in September as a fifth-grade learning disabilities special education teacher, was charged on Oct. 11 and released on a summons, according to the Chesapeake Police Department. Police confirmed that Harris was charged in connection with an incident that occured at Butts Road Intermediate School but did not provide any additional information.
Stephanie Bennett says her daughter came home from school with a cut on her hand and a swolen finger after Harris yanked and twisted her hand into an Islamic hand sign because she didn’t get it right. She says her daughter’s skin got caught on the metal wire of her notebook.
Bennet provided pictures of her daughter making the “Islamic hand signs” that Harris allegedly made students learn. The images also appear to show a small cut on the knuckle of the 10-year-old’s right index finger and from the incident that occured nearly two weeks ago. The mother says the tip of the girl’s finger is also red and swolen from Harris twisting it.
Another parent, Nita Redditt, backed up Bennett’s claims after she says she talked to her son.
Chesapeake School Board member Harry Murphy told TheBlaze on Thursday that the adminstration will not be able to comment on Harris’s case because it is a “personnel issue.” Murphy refused to even confirm or deny that Harris had been terminated from the school system.
However, he did say every person is innocent until proven guilty and should Harris appeal the school board’s decision, presumably to let her go, the Chesapeake Board of Education would be forced to be the “final jury” in a sense.
Despite making calls to all nine school board members and Superintendent Dr. James Roberts, Murphy is the only person who has responded.
According to the minutes from the Chesapeake School Board’s Oct. 8 meeting, members held a “closed meeting” about “personnel” involving “consideration of employment, assignment, appointment, promotion, demotion, salaries, disciplining or resignation of publi officers, appointees, or employees of any public body.”
Harris’ next-door neighbor, William Moore, told PilotOnline.com that Harris is not a Muslim. “They’re the nicest people you ever wanted to meet,” he said.
“Ahmed Noor, a trustee at the Mosque and Islamic Center of Hampton Roads in Hampton, said there are no hand gestures in the religion of Islam; however as different cultures practice the religion, there could be a culture that both practices Islam and uses some sort of hand gesture,” PilotOnline.com reports.
WAVY-TV has also reported on the issue following TheBlaze’s exclusive report.
Additional attempts to contact Harris were unsuccessful. The teacher’s side of the story is the one big piece still missing in this incident.
Harris is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
10-19-2012, 03:57 PM
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
After the McMartin Preschool and similar cases, I don't believe anything kids and parents say about teachers unless it's absolutely plausible and everyone present saw the same thing, video and photos would help as well.
Seriously, if this woman were of Islamic heritage, or somehow connected to NOI I would be willing to entertain the accusation. But from what we have to work with here, I say we have brain damaged children and the parents who created them.
10-19-2012, 05:24 PM
There is something here that isn't adding up. I've never heard of muslim hand gestures, either.
10-19-2012, 06:05 PM
Sounds like some over reaction at the mention of Islam...“A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” – Ayn Rand
Power Point Ranger
10-19-2012, 08:37 PM
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- May 2012
I'm having a hard time getting past the whole "Butts Intermediate School" thing. What idiot thinks giving a school full of elementary kids a name involving "Butts" would be a good idea?
10-19-2012, 08:46 PM
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- Jun 2008
10-19-2012, 08:58 PM
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- Jun 2008
Mom says teacher hurt child during Islamic lesson
By Clay Barbour
© October 19, 2012
Parents and teachers awoke Thursday morning to an alarming Internet story involving a special education teacher, an injured student and the specter of Islamic indoctrination.
What little of this story could be immediately verified came mainly from one source, and the officials who could either support the claims, or debunk them, are saying nothing.
Here is what The Virginian-Pilot has been able to confirm: A criminal charge has been filed against a Butts Road Intermediate School teacher based on a parent's complaint. The mother said the teacher assaulted her daughter during a lesson involving a Muslim "hand sign," according to the criminal complaint.
Police spokeswoman Kelly O'Sullivan confirmed that Tara Harris has been charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, for an Oct. 2 incident at the school. Harris, who is a fifth-grade special education teacher, is due in court Monday.
O'Sullivan said a police investigator looked into the matter and closed the case, telling the student's mother, Stephanie Bennett, that if she wanted to pursue charges, she could take it up with a magistrate, which she did. The magistrate filed the charge based on the parent's account. O'Sullivan said police rarely bring charges in misdemeanor cases unless they witness the act.
The Pilot was not able to reach Harris on Thursday. School spokesman Tom Cupitt said Harris was charged with an offense that called for a suspension, according to state law. Her pay is being placed in escrow. "We cannot comment any further since this is a personnel matter," he said.
Several Chesapeake School Board members, including Thomas Mercer and Harry Murphy, gave the same reason for not discussing the issue.
The story first appeared on The Blaze, a website owned by former Fox News host Glenn Beck. Bennett declined to talk to The Pilot.
According to the complaint, Bennett said Harris for two days had been teaching her class a Muslim hand sign for "Power and Strength." On the second day, the complaint alleges, Harris lost her patience with Bennett's daughter and tried to force her to make the hand gesture. During the process, the child scratched her hand on a folder, according to Bennett's complaint.
Bennett said her daughter has a learning disability that makes it hard for her to process information.
Nita and Kevin Redditt also have a child in Harris' class. Kevin Redditt said his 11-year-old son, a special needs student, also was taught the hand sign. He said he felt the teacher was trying to indoctrinate his son.
It is not clear whether Harris is Muslim, or whether any such hand signs exist as a form of expression for the religion.
Harris' next-door neighbor, William Moore, said Harris is not Muslim. Harris and her family have lived in the same neighborhood for more than a decade, neighbors said. "They're the nicest people you ever wanted to meet - they've been great neighbors," Moore said.
Ahmed Noor, a trustee at the Mosque and Islamic Center of Hampton Roads in Hampton, said there are no hand gestures in the religion of Islam; however, as different cultures practice the religion, there could be a culture that both practices Islam and uses some sort of hand gesture.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic relations, also said he has never heard of any religious hand signs in his faith.
According to The Blaze, Bennett said the hand gesture was like an upside-down A-OK signal. When A.J. Jones, owner and director of Atma Bodha Yoga in Virginia Beach, heard that description, he said it sounded like a hand posture used in all forms of classical yoga called mudra. Yoga is rooted in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of Hinduism.
Parents picking up students from Butts Road Intermediate on Thursday said they didn't know of the incident first-hand, only of the story online. All who stopped said they love the school and can't imagine an incident like the one described in The Blaze.
"I can't believe what I'm hearing," said Eileen Buck, a recent transplant from Wisconsin with two children attending the school. "It's so incomprehensible to me."
Pilot writers Scott Daugherty, Elisabeth Hulette and Gabriella Souza contributed to this report.
10-19-2012, 09:03 PM
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- Jun 2008
Harris' picture from The Examiner:
10-19-2012, 11:18 PMGovernment is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.
We could say they are spending like drunken sailors. That would be unfair to drunken sailors, they're spending their OWN money.
10-20-2012, 12:06 AM
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- Mar 2010
"...the kids involved in this hysteria have indeed suffered, but not at the hands of their teachers. And the abuse perpetrated against them by the child-protection movement gone mad are every bit as awful as the tyranny of incest." Debbie Nathan 1
"I felt everyone knew I was lying. But my parents said, 'You're doing fine. Don't worry.' And everyone was saying how proud they were of me." Kyle Zripolo, student at McMartin.
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