A Muslim student shared unexpected revelations about the same Texas high school attended by “Clock Boy” Ahmed in documents Breitbart Texas obtained through an open records request. The documents reveal a viewpoint unheard so far because Irving Independent School District officials cannot voice their side of the story due to federal privacy laws connected to the Mohamed family’s not signing a waiver to allow this information to become public.
Amena Jamali, a Muslim female and MacArthur High School’s 2015 valedictorian, reached out to “Mac,” short for MacArthur, family upon reading about Ahmed Mohamed in a truncated article that linked to the Dallas Morning News. The news story retold the Islamophobia victim version of the clock-in-a-box story with Ahmed’s father Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed claiming the arrest happened “…because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.” McArthur High School is the school attended by “Clock Boy” Ahmed at the time of the incident.
One of the documents Breitbart Texas obtained is Jamali’s lengthy Oct. 1 email to MacArthur High principal Dan Cummings, which completely dismantles the leftwing attack narrative that Ahmed’s Sept. 14 arrest was racially motivated. Jamali describes the opposite picture, calling “Mac” the place that changed her life, where she felt “respected as a Muslim.” She dubbed Irving ISD a place “that taught pride, accommodated Muslim prayer and dietary needs” and where “students of my religious community, including me, (are granted) two weeks every year to attend a religious ceremony.” Jamali wrote they allowed her to take “a whole month of school off and go for Haj.”
Jamali clearly excelled in the cultural environment at the place she calls “Mac.” Along the way to becoming class valedictorian, she was recognized nationally for her accomplishments. In June 2013, she travelled with some of her teachers and classmates to New York City where she competed as a finalist in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Jamali and her teammate Juan Ramos created a software game named “Better than History.”
In May 2014, she and Ramos were invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in a science fair competition. The White House said the two teens are “Changing the World through Online Games.”
Now a college student, Jamali acknowledged she did not know first-hand what occurred at MacArthur with Ahmed, then underscored, “…Mac is a place where there is no or very little prejudice.”
She took exception to one-sided news media that “blows the one incidence into a general presumption about Irving ISD…” She told Cummings she considered writing a letter to the Dallas Morning News: “I really do think it’s unfair that such a great school (the best in the world) is spoken of so poorly for a single day, when there were so many more amazing days.”
Jamali told Cummings, “I should have told you long before I graduated, I don’t care what anyone else says, but Mac is the reason I am so openly proud of my religion and heritage today.” Recalling her high school freshman year, she wrote, “I still feared being known as Muslim and asking for prayer space, and I felt self-conscious and out of place in my dress.” Jamali said she joined Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) because she wanted to feel more “like I belonged in my own country.”
She gushed about former teachers, one who told her to “come to him if someone ever bullied me for my dress (and NO one ever did)” and about another, “who stopped and waited for me to pray at so many UIL events.” Jamali described an environment that “taught me that I should be proud of being Muslim and that I can contribute to society WITH the uniqueness of my background, not in spite of.”
Jamali gave Cummings permission to use her emailed words “as you wish. I am not ashamed of my gratitude, nor do I wish it to be a private matter.”
If, indeed, Jamali’s claims in her email are accurate, then reality at “Mac” is a far cry from Islamophobia. In response to her comments, Cummings wrote, “There is absolutely no way that I can express in words my gratitude and appreciation for your incredibly moving e-mail. It’s scholars like you that make me a better administrator and person.” He also agreed to meet with a Muslim religious leader she recommended in the correspondence.
Previously, on Sept. 17 she sent the Ahmed article in an email to MacArthur AP World History teacher Chad Smith. She asked, “Wait is this our Mac?” He responded, “This is our Mac.”
Only three days after Ahmed’s arrest for bringing to class what school officials and police thought was a “hoax bomb,” Smith commented, in part, “…the media has only one side of the story, and our administration can’t tell the rest of the story because of privacy protections. It is a sad, challenging situation.” Smith conceded he could not discuss the matter further in the interest of following district media policy.” Jamali described the way the media treated the school, “This is not fair.”
Until the Mohamed family signs the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) release form, school officials and employees remain silenced from telling their side of the story. A US DOJ inquiry into the school district’s handling of the arrest further inhibits officials’ abilities to speak.
Last month, Irving ISD spokeswoman Lesley Weaver told Breitbart Texas it accommodates students of many faiths. On October 16, a guest speaker in Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) classes gave a presentation on Muslims at MacArthur. Weaver said that the speaker, Mrs. Elfierri, was one of 49 invited to present to AVID students on a variety of topics this Fall. Breitbart Texas requested the list of all speakers and topics. We have not yet received that list.
— Efdal (@EElferri) October 16, 2015
Documents obtained through an Open Records Request follow this story.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.