Teacher Blames Ouster on Anti-Muslim Bias

     CHICAGO (CN) – False allegations that a Muslim teacher voiced support for al-Qaida and the Taliban ultimately led to that educator’s ouster, she claims in Federal Court.
     Remah Kort filed the complaint against North Palos School District 117 and district superintendent Jeannie Stachowiak on Wednesday.
     Describing herself as an Arab Muslim woman, Kort says Glen Oaks Elementary School hired her as a fourth-grade student teacher in January 2010 while she studied for a degree in elementary education.
     Kort was just a couple of months on the job when she says she “was required to read an article to her class … [that] primarily portrayed Muslims in a negative manner and fully supported war as the solution to Afghanistan’s problems.”
     “Conscious of over half of the students in the class being Muslim, plaintiff explained that the assertions in the article were not reflective of all Muslims, and that the article was merely depicting one side of the story,” the complaint states. “During these comments, plaintiff referenced an Iraq war veteran who was running for Congress on an anti-war platform.”
     Three days later, the school principal and superintendent Stachowiak told Kort that she could no longer teach at the school.
     “Principal Grimm contended that a parent of one of the students in the 4th grade class complained that her student reviewed a YouTube video of the anti-war candidate containing derogatory and racist terms, that plaintiff assigned the students to review YouTube videos of this candidate, and that plaintiff made remarks in support of Al-Qaida and the Taliban,” Kort claims.
     The school allegedly backed down, however, after Kort and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, complained about the violation of her civil rights, according to the complaint.
     After an August meeting between her counsel and the district officials, Kort agreed not to press charges if “the school district agreed to confirm that she completed her student teaching satisfactorily.”
     Kort says she began working as a substitute teacher for the district since December 2011, but that the discrimination against her continued. Despite excellent reviews, Kort says her applications for full-time work never panned out.
     The principal of Dorn Elementary, a woman whose 2012 dissertation contended “that Muslim women who wear a hijab will have fewer opportunities in life,” then froze Kort out in April 2013.
     Kort says the principal did not speak to her again for the rest of the school year, and then Satchowiak suddenly informed Kort in August 2014 that the district would no longer hire her even as a substitute because she had pursued a potential legal claim against it in 2010.
     “Stachowiak commented that the administration ‘signed off’ on plaintiff’s student teaching but then ‘a lawsuit ensued,’ and plaintiff put District 117 in a ‘precarious place’ when she engaged attorneys in the issue,” the complaint states.
     “Stachowiak repeatedly contended that District 117 was ‘not doing anything wrong’ by ending plaintiff’s ability to teach as a substitute teacher in the district, because plaintiff ‘pulled the district into a legal issue.'”
     Kort seeks damages for retaliation, race discrimination, religious discrimination, breach of contract, and retaliatory discharge.
     She is represented by Rabya Khan with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
     A spokesman for the school district declined to comment on pending litigation.

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