Thursday, April 17, 2014

Private school in UAE held 15 pupils as young as seven hostage in the classroom until parents paid their overdue school fees

An investigation has been launched following claims a private primary school in the United Arab Emirates held 15 of its pupils hostage until their parents paid their fees. 

The children, who are pupils at Nibras Al Iman School, in Sharjah and are seven and eight years old, will give evidence to a three member committee next Monday at a hearing which is expected to take two days.

The school's principal will be interviewed as well as the teacher who was with the pupils in the classroom at the time and an administrative member of staff who called the parents to tell them their children were being kept, an official at the Sharjah Educational Zone said.

The alleged incident came to light after the mother of a girl being held called a radio station in Sharjah and told them what had happened.

She said she was not allowed to take her daughter home until she had paid the school fees which were late.

The committee investigating the allegations will be made up of two education zone officials and one person from the legal affairs section.

This is not the first time allegations have been made about a school punishing children whose parents have not their paid fees.

A Palestinian mother accused a school in  Sharjah of banning her son from getting the school bus unless his fees were paid.

Meanwhile a Jordanian mother Mariama Saleem told The National that her son, 10, said a member of staff goes into each class and reads the names aloud of all the children who parents have not paid.

She said: 'It’s embarrassing to the child. I know some parents can’t care less sometimes but this is no excuse for scarring a child’s emotions.'

This week a government school in Ajman withheld exam results of 10 of its pupils and sent text messages to parents to pay the late fees if they wanted to see their children's results. 

Schools are allowed to withhold results, keep official documents needed for pupils to move schools or temporarily suspend the child if parents have been warned three or more times, according to article 52 of the federal law.

Lawyer Salem Sahoh has said that parents of the 15 children could report the school to the police for 'limiting one's freedom' and 'endangering another's life'

If the school was found guilty a fine could be imposed and each parent could claim compensation in a civil court.

Sheikha Deemas, the principal of Sharjah British International School, said the value of bounced cheques received by her school from parents amounts to half a million dirhams.


Equality in Discipline

By Walter E. Williams

George Leef, director of research for the North Carolina-based John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, authored a Forbes op-ed article titled "Obama Administration Takes Groupthink To Absurd Lengths." The subtitle is "School Discipline Rates Must Be 'Proportionate.'" ( Let's examine some of the absurdity of the Obama administration's take on student discipline.

Last January, the departments of Justice and Education published a "guidance" letter describing how schools can meet their obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin. Its underlying threat is that if federal bureaucrats learn of racial disproportionality in the punishments meted out for misbehavior, they will descend upon a school's administrators. If schools cannot justify differentials in rates of punishment by race or ethnic group, they will face the loss of federal funds and be forced to undertake costly diversity training.

The nation's educators can avoid sanctions by adopting a racial quota system for student discipline. So as Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, predicts, "school officials will either start disciplining students who shouldn't be, or, more likely, will not discipline some students who ought to be."

I can imagine school administrators reasoning this way: "Blacks are 20 percent of our student body, and 20 percent of suspensions this year have been of black students. In order to discipline another black student while maintaining our suspension quota, we will have to suspend some white students, whether they're guilty or not." Some administrators might see some injustice in that approach and simply ignore the misbehavior of black students.

Leef cites Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, who wrote in City Journal ( that "the Departments of Education and Justice have launched a campaign against disproportionate minority discipline rates, which show up in virtually every school district with significant numbers of black and Hispanic students.

The possibility that students' behavior, not educators' racism, drives those rates lies outside the Obama administration's conceptual universe." She quoted Aaron Benner, a black teacher in a St. Paul, Minn., school who abhors the idea that school officials should go easy on black students who act up because (as a "facilitator" said) that's what black culture is. "They're trying to pull one over on us. Black folks are drinking the Kool-Aid; this 'let-them-clown' philosophy could have been devised by the KKK." Benner is right. I can't think of a more racist argument than one that holds that disruptive, rude behavior and foul language are a part of black culture.

If Barack Obama's Department of Justice thinks that disproportionality in school punishments is probative of racial discrimination, what about our criminal justice system, in which a disproportionate number of blacks are imprisoned, on parole or probation, and executed? According to the NAACP's criminal justice fact sheet, blacks now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people who are incarcerated. Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. The NAACP goes on to report that if blacks and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rate as whites, today's prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50 percent (

So what to do? For example, blacks are 13 percent of the population but over 50 percent of homicide victims and about 46 percent of convicted murderers. Seeing as the Obama administration is concerned about punishment disproportionality, should black convicts be released so that only 13 percent of incarcerated murderers are black? Or should the Department of Justice order the conviction of whites, whether they're guilty or not, so that the number of people convicted of murder by race is equal to their number in the general population?

You say, "Williams, that not only is a stupid suggestion but violates all concepts of justice!" You're absolutely right, but isn't it just as stupid and unjust for the Obama administration to seek punishment equality in schools?


Did Professor Advocate Censorship of Conservative Student Newspaper?

University of Minnesota at Morris biology professor Dr. Paul Zachary Myers doesn’t like young Republicans. In fact, he called them “a**holes.”  “That’s what they are,” Myers told me in a telephone interview on Friday. “I think they’ve amply demonstrated it is accurate.”

And he also doesn’t like The Morris North Star, a conservative student publication that routinely draws the ire of liberals at the University Minnesota at Morris.

“I said it was a terrible, terrible paper and they university should not be endorsing it,” Myers said.

But attorneys for the student newspaper are alleging Myers broke the law when they say he wrote a blog post on his personal blog urging people to throw away the publication.

The Alliance Defending Freedom has accused Myers, an associate professor in the school’s biology program, of encouraging people to steal and throw away a copy of the November 22nd edition of the newspaper.

That particular edition included a satire on affirmative action. The professor said the paper was mocking minority students.

“I would advocate the disposal of their flyers if the Ku Klux Klan started papering our campus, and likewise, the North Star has worn out its welcome and must go,” the professor wrote. “Treat their scattered papers as hate-filled trash and dispose of it appropriately.”

Myers went on to call the student editors of the publication “wingnutty” and even took a swipe at Fox News.

“We do have conservative students here – I expect that the majority are more conservative than I am – but they also trend towards being more the reasonable, rational, educate sort of conservative,” he wrote. “Not the kind you’ll see on Fox News, and most unfortunately, not the kind who are likely to get elected to the Republican party.”

Oh yeah – he also called the conservative youngsters “assholes-in-training.”

After the professor’s diatribe was published, approximately 350 copies of The North Star were stolen from campus distribution bins, the Alliance Defending Freedom alleges. They estimate the theft cost the newspaper $1,750.

Myers told me he had nothing to do with the disappearance of the newspapers.

“I suggested the university needed to get rid of them,” he said. “I have done absolutely nothing to squelch their ability to publish their terrible little rag.”

And last January, The North Star published an issue that included a pro-life story. As many as 100 copies of the newspaper were later found defaced.

The newspaper staff contacted university officials about both incidents –but so far – the university has remained silent.

ADF attorney Kevin Theriot is calling on the university to not only condemn the theft and destruction, but also investigate the incidents.

“The university must take steps to protect The North Star and all other student publications from such viewpoint-based censorship in the future,” Theriot said in a prepared statement.

Theriot also had some choice words to say about Professor Myers.  “Professor Myers has betrayed that public trust by his advocacy of censorship,” he said, accusing the professor of chilling free speech by “advocating that people steal the paper and throw it in the trash.”

For the record, no one has been charged with a crime. And the university sent me a two-sentence statement saying they were reviewing ADF’s claims and “will respond in due course.”

ADF said the most troubling aspect of the incident is UMM’s silence.

“A public university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas, where free thought and discourse flourish,” ADF wrote in a letter to the university. “By failing to take swift action to denounce the theft and defacing of a newspaper, UMM is teaching students that the appropriate response to ideas you disagree with is to censor or destroy those ideas.”

One would think that a university campus would be a bit more tolerant of opposing viewpoints. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine UMM professors advocating for an old-fashioned book burning. They could use a copy of the First Amendment as fire starter.

ADF said Professor Myers may express his opinion about the newspaper. However, the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments do not protect government officials when they incite illegal activity, “engage in viewpoint discrimination, confiscate property without notice, and seize The North Star’s property.”

Perhaps Professor Myers should remember that – the next time he decides to open his orifice.


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