Muslim families to sue over alleged mistreatment of pupils

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Families of 14 Muslim middle school students who say a bus driver insulted their religion as he removed them from a school bus have filed official notice that they will sue over the case.

Attorneys for the families and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group based in Washington, said in their notice that the driver ''was hostile, intimidating and made religious slurs.''

The driver said he removed the students, ages 12-14, from the school bus on Oct. 29 because they were disobedient and verbally abusive.

The Fort Caroline Middle School students, recent immigrants from the Mideast and Central Asia, said they had to walk 5 miles home.

A civil rights investigation into the case is under way by the Florida Attorney General's Office.

The lawsuit will be filed against the Duval County School Board. Florida requires six months' warning before a public agency can be sued.

Superintendent John Fryer said Monday that the school system and First Student bus company investigated, but he wouldn't discuss the results.

''Now it's up to the lawyers,'' he said.

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