EDUCATION
10/23/2012 11:41 am ET

Tara Harris, School Teacher, Charged With Simple Assault After Student's Hand Injured During Lesson On Islamic Hand Signs

A Virginia elementary school teacher has been charged with simple assault after an Oct. 2 lesson on Islamic hand signs left one student’s hand cut and bleeding, according to a parent.

Stephanie Bennett, the mother of the 10-year-old girl who was allegedly assaulted at Butts Road Intermediate School in Chesapeake, Va., told conservative blog TheBlaze that teacher Tara Harris spent two days going over Islamic hand symbols with her students when she was supposed to be teaching them reading and math.

When Bennett’s daughter, who suffers from a processing disorder, had trouble mastering the gesture for “power and strength,” Harris allegedly became frustrated and attempted to twist the girl’s fingers into the proper configuration, during which her hand became caught on the ring of a folder, causing it to bleed.

According to TheBlaze, the mother said her daughter told her that Harris “prays to Allah in Arabic” approximately five times a day in front of students and teaches them about Islam and its superiority to other religions. Another parent reportedly complained that Harris openly campaigns for President Barack Obama in the classroom and slams Mitt Romney, while others have confirmed Bennett’s suspicions after speaking with their children.

Bennett said she was initially told by a school resource officer that “speaking in Arabic wasn’t against school policy.”

Harris, who is a fifth-grade special education teacher, was suspended following the incident.

Harris’ husband, Dale Harris, told WAVY-TV the allegations were “an outright lie” and that his wife is not Muslim, nor did she teach hand signs of any kind in the classroom. He says she never aggressively touched a child in her 26 years in the Chesapeake school system, and believes Tara is being targeted by the school system because she accused a principal of assault in 2008.

The Virginian-Pilot reports a trial date of Nov. 27 has been set for Harris’ misdemeanor charge.

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