Cassandra Wyatt's 7-year-old daughter Sumayyah came home from school this week and told her mother that the second-grade teacher at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey, took off her hijab.
"She's not doing good — she doesn't want to wear her hijab anymore," Wyatt said.
A hijab is a traditional head covering worn by Muslim women as a sign of modesty.
"She said she went to pull it off like this, 'No, no my Hijab, my Hijab,'" Wyatt said her daughter told her. "She was holding it but she pulled it off in front of the whole entire classroom, by the way."
Robert Tarver, the family's lawyer, said the teacher, in a "bizarre moment," told Sumayyah that she has "beautiful hair." He called the situation "intolerable."
"I don't think you'll find a person around that doesn't understand that number one, teachers should not be making physical contact with students," Tarver said. "But number two, based upon a person's religious belief, which is the situation with my client, who is a practicing Muslim child, that you cannot interfere with that. You cannot remove what is a part of her religion."
The South Orange-Maplewood School District is investigating.
"The district takes matters of discrimination extremely seriously. We will utilize the existing district due process mechanisms to ensure fair and just outcomes based upon the results of our investigation," the district said in a statement. "Any decision or outcome related to this will be reserved for after the completion of the investigation."
Sumayyah's mother wants the teacher fired and to do one more thing.
"I would love for her to apologize to my daughter," Wyatt said.
Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Maplewood resident and a 2016 U.S. Olympian in fencing, posted about this story on Instagram, drawing a lot of attention to it.
An online petition is gaining signatures calling for the teacher being accused of this incident to be fired.
Sumayyah has not been back to school. Her mom and the family lawyer said she won't return to the classroom until the school district takes action against the teacher.