After their 14-year-old son was handcuffed, interrogated, and arrested for inventing a homemade clock and bringing it to school, his parents filed a lawsuit this week against the school district and principal. Accused of discrimination and violating the student’s civil rights, school officials continue to deny any wrongdoing while refusing to apologize to the inventive student and his family.
Nearly a year ago, Irving MacArthur High School student Ahmed Mohamed created a digital clock using a circuit board and power supply wired to a digital display held inside a case with a tiger hologram on the front. Instead of offering words of encouragement, Ahmed’s engineering teacher warned him not to show the clock to any of his other teachers.
Deciding to heed his teacher’s advice, Ahmed kept the clock in his backpack during English class, but the alarm went off in the middle of a lesson. After the English teacher told him to shut off the alarm, she accused him of bringing a bomb to school before confiscating the clock.
MacArthur High School Principal Daniel Cummings and a police officer pulled Ahmed out of sixth period and led him into a room with four other cops. An officer that Ahmed had never seen before commented, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”
Handcuffed and interrogated without the presence of his parents, Ahmed was placed under arrest on charges of possessing a hoax bomb. After Ahmed was suspended for three days from school, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd decided to drop the ludicrous charges against the student due to a deluge of unrest on social media.
“Despite the fact that they knew it wasn’t a bomb, that he never threatened anyone, that he never said it was a bomb, that he never alarmed anyone,” stated co-plaintiff attorney, Susan Hutchison. “Despite all of those things, they yanked him out of his chair, put him in handcuffs and arrested him. There was no cause for arrest.”
During an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Ahmed asserted that he never claimed it was a bomb and said, “It made me feel like I wasn’t human. It made me feel like a criminal.”
As the Justice Department continues to investigate the Irving Independent School District on complaints of harassment and discipline of students on the basis of race, religion, and national origin, Ahmed’s parents filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing the city, school district, and principal of discrimination and violating their son’s civil rights.
In response to the lawsuit, representatives from the Irving Independent School District issued the following statement on Monday: “Irving ISD continues to deny violating the student’s rights and will respond to claims in accordance with court rules. Because this matter is now in litigation, Irving ISD officials will have no further comment at this time. Irving ISD employees are focused on welcoming 35,000 students for the 2016-17 academic year and doing everything possible to ensure each student is achieving his or her maximum potential.
“The city of Irving is prepared to vigorously defend itself and the justifiable actions it took in this matter. The legal process will allow all facts to be revealed, and the city welcomes that opportunity. The city of Irving’s top priority is to ensure the safety and security of its children and the entire community. The city will continue to take its duty and responsibility to serve and protect the public seriously.”
Nearly a year after the incident, school officials still refuse to apologize to Ahmed and his family for their blatant ignorance and bigotry. Instead of encouraging a student’s curiosity and ingenuity, these so-called educators merely convinced Ahmed to never bring another invention to school.
“I get a lot of hate. I got a lot of support in the beginning, but it’s the hate that sticks,” said Ahmed. “I get death threats. What did I ever do to someone to get death threats?”