clock menu more-arrow no yes

Here's how a Texas school explained arresting a 14-year-old Muslim boy for making a clock

On Monday, teachers at the Irving Independent School District in Irving, Texas, had police arrest a 14-year-old student named Ahmed Mohamed for bringing to school a simple electronic clock he had built as an engineering project. Police escorted Mohamed out of school in handcuffs — photos of the arrest show him wearing a NASA T-shirt — and accused him of trying to build a bomb.

This arrest, clearly, should never have happened. But one would like to expect at least that the Irving school, after just a cursory glance at the clock and maybe a conversation with Mohamed's engineering teacher, who had praised the project, would realize its mistake. That the school would apologize to Mohamed for humiliating and terrorizing him, acknowledge its mistake, and use it as a teaching moment to discuss racism and profiling.

That is not what has happened. Instead, even after learning that the clock was just a clock built as an educational project, the school suspended Mohamed for three days and sent out this letter to parents on Tuesday:

ParentLetter_SuspiciousLookingItematMacArthur

The letter, which acknowledges no mistake whatsoever on the school's part even though by then school officials knew the clock was harmless, is infuriating to read for its tone-deafness.

It seems to imply that Mohamed was at fault for violating the "Student Code of Conduct." The letter also asks students to "immediately report any suspicious items and / or suspicious behavior," in effect asking students and parents help to perpetuate the school's practice of racist profiling, even after that profiling had been clearly demonstrated as without merit. It is appalling that school officials would still think this way even after their arrest had been exposed as a horrible mistake, but it is especially telling that they would wish to announce this fact to students' parents as well.


VIDEO: The police's explanation for arresting Ahmed Mohamed