An elementary school teacher in Chesapeake, Va. has been charged with simple assault after a parent claimed her daughter’s hand was cut open as a result of the teacher yanking her arm aggressively while trying to teach students an “Islamic hand sign.”
Officer Leo Kosinski, a spokesman for the Chesapeake Police Department, told TheBlaze that Tara Harris was criminally charged with a misdemeanor on Oct. 11 and released on a summons. The case is currently under investigation.
“It’s still a criminal charge. It happened at the school and it involved a student,” Kosinski said. The police department could not release any additional information.
Tara Harris and her husband Dale. Photo credit: WAVY-TV
Stephanie Bennett, the mother of the 10-year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted at Butts Road Intermediate School, told TheBlaze in an emotional phone interview that Harris has a disturbing trend of “indoctrinating” students with Islamic teachings. She also said the teacher openly campaigns for President Barack Obama in the classroom.
The incident of alleged assault occurred on October 2, according to Bennett.
“The teacher was going over Islamic hand signs with the children — she stayed on this issue for two days straight during their reading and math class,” she said.
Bennett’s daughter suffers from a processing disorder, making it difficult for her to quickly grasp things like hand signs. “Not that she’s uneducated or anything. It’s just a processing problem,” the mother said.
When Bennett’s daughter was unable to do the Islamic hand sign correctly after two days of instruction, Harris became frustrated and attempted to twist the girl’s fingers to make the Islamic gesture meaning “power and strength.” The way Bennett described it, it sounds like an upside A-OK hand gesture. It is unclear exactly which “Islamic hand sign” was being promoted as the source information comes from children.
“When she didn’t get it right, [Harris] went over and yanked her hand out of her desk and my daughter’s hand got hung up on the metal wire on her file folder and the skin got caught on it,” the mother explained, her voice cracking with emotion. “The other children saw my daughter’s hand dripping with blood after the teacher had gotten so mad that she went to twist my daughter’s hand into an Islamic sign.”
After her child came home with the cut on her hand and she learned what had happened, Bennett immediately filed a police report. She claims to have pictures of her daughter’s injuries. She has agreed to share the pictures with TheBlaze, however, they were unable to be sent digitally late Wednesday night.
She says the day after the incident school officials informed her that Harris had been placed on administrative leave. On Tuesday, she was then informed that the teacher had been terminated from the Chesapeake Public School system all together. Her termination can not be independently confirmed as the messages left with multiple officials with the school system have not been returned. Attempts to contact Harris were also unsuccessful.
The mother said her daughter told her that Harris “prays to Allah in Arabic” around five times a day in front of students and teaches them about Islam and how it is superior to other religions. Bennett claims other parents have confirmed her suspicions after talking with their kids.
One of those parents, Nita Redditt, told TheBlaze that her young son confirmed Bennett’s story. The boy said he was “scared” to go back to school the next day after she found out, she added.
“I think he was intimidated,” Redditt said. “I couldn’t believe what was going on in the classroom in regards to this teacher praying to Allah and having them pray with her.”
Bennett said she wants the Chesapeake Police Department to conduct a full investigation into Harris’s actions. She also wants to know why she wasn’t notified immediately when another parent complained to Butts Road Intermediate School officials about Harris campaigning for Obama in the classroom and bashing Republican GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Bennett said a school resource officer intially told her that “speaking in Arabic wasn’t against school policy.”
“Kids can’t stand up and fight for themselves. Someone’s got to fight for them,” Bennett said. “Why didn’t someone call me? Why weren’t any of the parents notified?”
What is strange is that no local news outlets appear to be reporting on the incident — not even the fact that a public school teacher was charged with assault.
Chesapeake Public Schools is still reeling from fresh allegations of criminal activity against one of its teachers. WAVY-TV reports that Bryan Carter, an assistant principal at Indian River High School, was arrested earlier this month and charged with abduction, burglary, attempted robbery and assault and battery.
PilotOnline.com, which serves the Chesapeake area, also reported on Wednesday that a Virginia Beach piano teacher had been charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.
So why are local media not covering the story involving Harris, who has been with the school since September, allegedly assaulting a 10-year-old student and forcing her class to learn Islamic hand signs? What makes this story different?
TheBlaze will continue to follow up with Chesapeake Public Schools for additional information on this developing story.