The student returned to school on Monday, her lawyer, Robert L. Tarver, said. Her mother, Cassandra Wyatt, who also wears a hijab, appeared Thursday at a news conference arranged by Mr. Tarver but did not comment. She has told ABC-7 Eyewitness News that her daughter no longer wanted to wear a head scarf.
“The teacher put her hands on the child,” said Mr. Tarver, adding that another person in the classroom had recounted the story similarly. “It was not a hoodie. It was a hijab. I have seen the actual clothing.”
The same day, another parent complained that Ms. Herman threw a student’s drink in the trash, telling the child it “wasn’t water,” a permitted beverage, according to an email sent by the family and shared with Mr. Tarver.
The 493-student elementary school has the highest percentage of students of color in the district, which educates children from two neighboring commuter towns that are roughly 25 miles from Midtown Manhattan. About 56 percent of students at Seth Boyden are Black, 23 percent are white, nearly 4 percent are Latino, 2 percent are Asian and the rest identify as multiracial.
The school’s Parent Teacher Association is active and varied: There is both a vice president of diversity and equity and a vice president of happiness.
Seth Boyden has also been the focus of efforts to further desegregate the towns’ schools. The Black Parents Workshop, a local advocacy group, enlisted Mr. Tarver to file a federal lawsuit that accused the district of discriminating against students of color and allowing a wide achievement gap to persist between Black and white students. The lawsuit was settled last year and the district agreed to make changes.
Ms. Herman has taught in elementary schools for more than 30 years and often volunteered to teach at a Hebrew school, relatives said. A former student and parents of past students described her as warm and caring, signing off emails, “Together we can make the world a better place!”
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