The 14-year-old Muslim boy from Texas who was arrested at school for bringing in a clock, Ahmed Mohamed, is not alone in being singled out by his school on flimsy grounds.
Administrators at a London's Central Foundation school interrogated a 14-year-old boy about ISIS after he explained the word "eco-terrorist" during a school discussion about environmentalism, the Guardian reports:
According to court documents, the boy was in a French class at the Central Foundation school in May 2015 and took part in a discussion, conducted mostly in French, about the environment. The teacher and pupils were said to have discussed those who use violence to protect the planet.
The teenager mentioned that some people use the term “ecoterrorist” to describe those who take action such as spiking trees with nails to prevent chainsaws from chopping them down.
Later that week, according to court documents obtained by the Guardian, the boy was called out of class and taken to a room, where two adults questioned him about whether he had connections to terrorist group ISIS.
“I didn’t know what was going on. They said there had been safety concerns raised. If you are taken out of French class and asked about ISIS, it is quite scary. My heart skipped a beat,” the boy, who asked not to be named, told the paper. His parents are suing the school, saying he was targeted because he is Muslim, and that the experience left him distressed.
It is unarguable that at the relevant time (May 2015) the school was required as part of its safeguarding responsibilities to be aware of the dangers of radicalisation. The approach of alerting the designated child protection officer by email regarding inappropriate references to terrorism and for [her] to have short 10-minute conversation with the claimant was a reasonable and proportionate response.
The school's move is in line with new counter-terrosim laws passed in the U.K. this year which requires schools to actively intervene if they think a student is at risk of developing terrorist ideologies. Educators and Muslim community leaders have been concerned about how the new policies would play out—this may be the first publicized instance of a school taking action because of the new laws.