Seth Boyden teacher accused of removing student's hijab during class

Taken from the superintendent letter above.

“To that point, pursuant to our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Maplewood Police Department (MPD), we have been directed to pause our internal investigation into the alleged actions as the Prosecutor’s Office and MPD lead their own inquiry. As a reminder, while the District cannot comment on matters involving personnel or staff, the community can be assured that all necessary measures have been taken to remedy the immediate situation within the purview of the District’s power, while this matter is being investigated.”


This is from the patch, the mayor and superintendent explained why the school district has paused their investigation. It was the MPD that took over.

They said that as outlined in the district's agreement with local police, the police have directed them to suspend their investigation and turn the matter over to the Maplewood Police Department and to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office for further investigation.


I’m guessing it will end up being bigger than these people accusing the teacher of ripping off the hijab ever thought it would be. This could backfire on them and end up with someone being prosecuted for terroristic threats. The FBI might even be involved. Let’s see.


kenboy said:

With each passing day of no charges, the truth becomes more and more obvious. And the copy & paste from social media isn't helping the accuser's side. Ironically, if anyone gets a payday from all this, it's going to be the falsely accused teacher -- the allegations make zero sense. 

I would guess the teacher is feeling pretty shattered right now and if retiring or leaving the district is an option, she will.


This may be a naive question but how tough can this "investigation" be? Isn't it largely a matter of asking all the other students in the class what they saw and heard?


steel said:

This may be a naive question but how tough can this "investigation" be? Isn't it largely a matter of asking all the other students in the class what they saw and heard?

Your question has me imagining myself as a second grader being asked to recall in detail something that I didn’t know I was supposed to be paying attention to. 


DaveSchmidt said:

steel said:

This may be a naive question but how tough can this "investigation" be? Isn't it largely a matter of asking all the other students in the class what they saw and heard?

Your question has me imagining myself as a second grader being asked to recall in detail something that I didn’t know I was supposed to be paying attention to. 

 I think it would be pretty memorable and that second graders are bright and articulate enough to recount their experience. Frankly, if not, how much information can be gleaned otherwise? 


steel said:

I think it would be pretty memorable and that second graders are bright and articulate enough to recount their experience. Frankly, if not, how much information can be gleaned otherwise?

Naturally the children should be questioned. I was noting reservations only about my own second-grade self, and thinking how getting consistent accounts might not be so easy.


steel said:

This may be a naive question but how tough can this "investigation" be? Isn't it largely a matter of asking all the other students in the class what they saw and heard?

 I’m thinking by now they are past that stage of the investigation. Reason why the MPD has taken over. When the school district is receiving terroristic threats via email, from people all over the country and even international, it becomes a different investigation. It becomes criminal. 


steel said:

This may be a naive question but how tough can this "investigation" be? Isn't it largely a matter of asking all the other students in the class what they saw and heard?

 Remember  the investigation into the Wee Care incident? 


Deleted. 


I don't think that the MPD can simply look at what happened in the classroom.   


Jaytee said:


When the school district is receiving terroristic threats via email, from people all over the country and even international, it becomes a different investigation. It becomes criminal. 

 An unintended result of this disturbing witch hunt. I hope there will be accountability for those who posted and propagated all this. It's shameful. (and as a parent of a Seth Boyden student, it raises questions of school safety. Ugh). 


joan_crystal said:

 Remember  the investigation into the Wee Care incident? 

 Whatever happened to that teacher? I knew she went to jail, but can’t remember whatever happened. That was terrible thing I remember.


Jaytee said:

joan_crystal said:

 Remember  the investigation into the Wee Care incident? 

 Whatever happened to that teacher? I knew she went to jail, but can’t remember whatever happened. That was terrible thing I remember.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Care_Nursery_School_abuse_trial

"In March 1993, after five years in prison, Michaels' appeal was successful and she was released. The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and declared "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods."

I had no idea this happened!! 


sbenois said:

I don't think that the MPD can simply look at what happened in the classroom.   

 Agreed. I guess I'm just thinking that after speaking to the other students perhaps a pretty clear conclusion could be reached as to the essential elements. Perhaps that conclusion has even already occurred but cannot yet be communicated to the public. Considering the threats of violence, I imagine that the authorities are not going to say anything more until they have gathered as much information as possible.


steel said:

 I think it would be pretty memorable and that second graders are bright and articulate enough to recount their experience. Frankly, if not, how much information can be gleaned otherwise? 

If the incident played out the way it was originally described on social media, I agree that it would be memorable. But that depiction has not been established as fact. It's possible the incident took place quickly and in a way that wasn't really obvious to the other students.

Also, please refer to Joan's posts about the difficulty with questioning young children. That kind of interview has to be conducted very carefully so as not to unduly influence the child's answers.


steel said:

sbenois said:

I don't think that the MPD can simply look at what happened in the classroom.   

 Agreed. I guess I'm just thinking that after speaking to the other students perhaps a pretty clear conclusion could be reached as to the essential elements. Perhaps that conclusion has even already occurred but cannot yet be communicated to the public. Considering the threats of violence, I imagine that the authorities are not going to say anything more until they have gathered as much information as possible.

 I would think that the MPD's investigation includes fact finding regarding whether there was a coordinated effort to target this teacher because of her religion.  


As someone with a degree in journalism who has conducted interviews with folks of all ages for more than three decades, I can tell you with absolute certainty that second graders are virtually un-interviewable. Forget it. Even if the police are in street clothes and parents are present. There is going to be little if any useful information to be gleaned from these classmates. I have been assuming the police are focusing on the allegedly/presumably terroristic threats made to the teacher. (I do not have/use FB, and this is among the many times I am extremely happy about that.)


composerjohn said:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Care_Nursery_School_abuse_trial

"In March 1993, after five years in prison, Michaels' appeal was successful and she was released. The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and declared "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods."

I had no idea this happened!! 

 As testimony was summarized in the news, I couldn't believe she would be convicted. These wee pre-school kids. She was accused of undressing, then sodomizing numerous kids, then getting them dressed again. This was supposedly on numerous occasions. Oh, and this was while parents could have walked into the school at any time during the day. No parent or other adult ever came across these events.

Did you ever try to undress or dress a 3 year old? And that was the least outlandish testimony against Ms. Michaels. It became absurd when children' descriptions of the abuse were video played to the jury.


mrincredible said:

steel said:

 I think it would be pretty memorable and that second graders are bright and articulate enough to recount their experience. Frankly, if not, how much information can be gleaned otherwise? 

If the incident played out the way it was originally described on social media, I agree that it would be memorable. But that depiction has not been established as fact. It's possible the incident took place quickly and in a way that wasn't really obvious to the other students.

Also, please refer to Joan's posts about the difficulty with questioning young children. That kind of interview has to be conducted very carefully so as not to unduly influence the child's answers.

The statement from the teacher's lawyer confirmed that an incident took place between the teacher and student and there was some misunderstanding or disagreement about what the student was wearing on her head.

The rest is speculation at this time.


composerjohn said:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Care_Nursery_School_abuse_trial

"In March 1993, after five years in prison, Michaels' appeal was successful and she was released. The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the lower court's decision and declared "the interviews of the children were highly improper and utilized coercive and unduly suggestive methods."

I had no idea this happened!! 

 There was an epidemic of these cases in the late '80s and early '90s. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-care_sex-abuse_hysteria

I vividly remember the case in Oak Hill, TX (adjacent to Austin) in 1991 because I lived nearby. The couple who ran the daycare center was convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison. They served 21 years before the case was reopened. They were released in 2013, the case was dismissed, and they were awarded $3.4 million for wrongful conviction.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oak_Hill_satanic_ritual_abuse_trial

According to the children, the couple served blood-laced Kool-Aid and forced them to have videotaped sex with adults and other children. The Kellers, they said, sometimes wore white robes and lit candles before hurting them. The children also accused the Kellers of forcing them to watch or participate in the killing and dismemberment of cats, dogs and a crying baby. Bodies were allegedly unearthed in cemeteries and new holes dug to hide freshly killed animals and, once, an adult passer-by was shot and dismembered with a chainsaw. The children recalled several plane trips, including one to Mexico, where they were sexually abused by soldiers before returning to Austin in time to meet their parents at the day care.
Later investigation of the case revealed serious problems: there was no physical evidence of abuse, a retracted confession that the investigating officer did not believe, flawed medical exams of the children, testimony by a dubious "expert" on satanic ritual abuse, and the prosecution withholding information from the defense.[5] More generally, there has been more understanding since 1991 of the unreliability of child testimony and that young children are easily suggestible, meaning an unethical or simply incompetent interrogator can easily get wild and false claims from children.[5]

If in fact this is what happened, is it enough to have ruined a dedicated teacher's life?  This is the first I have heard Ms. Herman describe what happened in her own words. 

“Last week, I asked one of my students to raise the hood of her sweatshirt because it was covering her eyes,” Herman reportedly said.

“With her mask on, too, her whole face was covered. I gently got her attention by brushing up the front of her hood. The moment I realized she was not wearing her usual hijab underneath, she kept the hood on. And the learning went on.”

https://nypost.com/2021/10/13/nj-teacher-tamar-herman-accused-of-removing-2nd-graders-hijab-speaks-out/

If this is what actually happend, it was an honest mistake. For those who say that the teacher, under no circunstances, should have touched the student's hood (or hijab, as the mother says it was,) Ms. Herman should be fired and charged with a hate crime. 



This is how Ms. Muhammad described what allegedly happend in her Instagram and Facebook posts: 

"Yesterday, Tamar Herman, a teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary in Maplewood, NJ forcibly removed the hijab of a second grade student. The young student resisted, by trying to hold onto her hijab, but the teacher pulled the hijab off, exposing her hair to the class. Herman told the student that her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear hijab to school anymore." 



I'm not sure if it was mentioned on this thread - but a hoodie is an acceptable substitution for a hijab.

Sounds like Herman thought she had her hijab on underneath.  

Seeing the 2 accounts side by side is helpful.  The "forcible removal" of the hijab sounds like a stretch.  Also - the quote of telling the student that  "her hair was beautiful and she did not have to wear hijab to school anymore." - is really odd.  Would other students be able to corroborate this statement?


Herman’s full statement, received by The Village Green:

This is a message to my community, Maplewood and South Orange. The community that I grew up in and chose to teach in.

I am a second grade teacher.

I have been helping kids for over 30 years.

I help kids tie their shoes. I help kids put on their jackets. I help kids put on their band-aids. I help kids learn every day.

Often, I am standing near my students to give them instruction or to review their work. Last week, I asked one of my students to raise the hood of her sweatshirt because it was covering her eyes. With her mask on too, her whole face was covered. I gently got her attention by brushing up the front of her hood. The moment I realized she was not wearing her usual hijab underneath, she kept the hood on. And the learning went on. That is what happened.

My students have missed in-person learning for half their kindergarten and most of their first grade. I love teaching my kids. I love watching them grow and blossom. I love Seth Boyden. I always have. Seth Boyden is a special school with teachers, staff, kids, and parents who go the extra mile. I miss you Seth Boyden.

I believe in Maplewood and South Orange. Our kids need us now more than ever. Let us be there for OUR kids. Let us cultivate a climate of acceptance, tolerance, compassion, and respect for all. Diversity is our strength. It should not divide us.

I always tell my students to try their best every day. And I do the same.

I try my best every day! And I always have and I always will.

To my second grade students and to the Seth Boyden community:

I pray we can move forward as one community. Let us find a place where all of us can be our best selves and make a better kinder world. I miss you so much!


My youngest son attended WeeCare at St. George’s Church. When the Michael’s story broke, it didn’t sound plausible to me back then because the school had parents helping or popping in daily. Lots of parents’ involvement in a child care setting is a safeguard I believed then, and still do.

The PTB, back in the day, weren’t  prepared for a national spotlight — still aren’t,  it seems.


Could this situation have been handled as follows?

1.  2nd grader tells parent what happen at school.

2.  Parent contacts principal and asks for a meeting to discuss what happens.

3.  With a mediator, parent and teacher and principal discuss this issue and how to prevent this from happening again.

4.  If parent is still unhappy, then they can hire a lawyer.

However, now that this has been tried in the court of daily outrage, there are no good outcomes and the entire community suffers.


tjohn said:

Could this situation have been handled as follows?

1.  2nd grader tells parent what happen at school.

2.  Parent contacts principal and asks for a meeting to discuss what happens.

3.  With a mediator, parent and teacher and principal discuss this issue and how to prevent this from happening again.

4.  If parent is still unhappy, then they can hire a lawyer.

However, now that this has been tried in the court of daily outrage, there are no good outcomes and the entire community suffers.

 Totally agree. The teacher has received DEATH threats. It’s a horrible situation. 


shh said:

tjohn said:

Could this situation have been handled as follows?

1.  2nd grader tells parent what happen at school.

2.  Parent contacts principal and asks for a meeting to discuss what happens.

3.  With a mediator, parent and teacher and principal discuss this issue and how to prevent this from happening again.

4.  If parent is still unhappy, then they can hire a lawyer.

However, now that this has been tried in the court of daily outrage, there are no good outcomes and the entire community suffers.

 Totally agree. The teacher has received DEATH threats. It’s a horrible situation. 

Yes!!! It has been handled in the absolute worst and destructive way possible. 


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