Family of 11-year-old boy claims he was interrogated, strip searched, and questioned about his faith

Updated: Oct. 28, 2019 at 6:15 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Parents of a young Muslim boy filed a lawsuit claiming a school district interrogated him, questioned him about his religion, and even strip searched him.

The lawsuit, filed last week, stems from an alleged incident that dates back to the previous school year.

The family filed a lawsuit against the Lakeview school district, the Board of Education, a teacher, a student teacher and a school nurse.

Attorney Matthew Abens said, “We don’t want this to happen again that anyone is singled out for their ethnicity or their religious beliefs, race, or gender, that policies are in place for certain reasons and that they are followed.”

Abens says last November, a then 10-year-old boy at Lakeview Elementary was asked several questions by a student teacher in the middle of class, At first, it was simply why he appeared sad, and then turned to questions about his home life.

When he wouldn’t really answer, the student teacher removed him from class asking more questions about home life. “They wouldn’t let him leave until he told them what he thought they wanted to hear which was that his parents were abusing him at home which wasn’t the case. It puts him an incredibly difficult situation where they want him to say that is a parents are abusing him when he knows it’s not true,” said Abens.

The lawsuit claims the questions then turned to religion. What is his religion? Does he believe in God? In heaven? Does he love America? Abens said, “We believe that was due to the fact that he is a Pakistani and Muslim.” Abens says it didn’t stop there. The little boy was taken into a private, windowless room by the teacher and student teacher with the nurse also there.

According to the complaint, he was terrified and began to cry, and was held against his will for about a half hour. Then, it’s alleged the boy was strip searched, his pants pulled down to his ankles, and his shirt pulled above his chest.

“They went way above and beyond what they were allowed to do. They should be reporting it to the principal and or children and family services and let those individuals handle any further investigation,” said Abens.

Lakeview Superintendent Velina Taylor told 19 News she’s unable to comment. She went on to say, “I hope everybody remembers that you’re innocent until proven guilty. I think once the facts come out people will understand everything,” said Taylor.

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