An Arab-American high school student says he was left "in shock" after a teacher responded to his question with an alleged racist remark.
Mohammed Zubi, a senior student at Ridgefield Memorial High School in Bergen County, New Jersey, said he was asking a math teacher if he could finish an assignment as homework on Tuesday when the teacher made the insensitive comment.
"He responded saying, 'We don't negotiate with terrorists,'" Zubi said. "So I look around in shock, there's people laughing, and there's other people in shock, and I turn around and ask my friend, 'Did he really just say that?' and she said yes."
The teacher made the alleged comment loud enough for most students in the class to hear, according to WABC. Vuk Tomasese, another senior, said that they heard the comment as well and said that the teacher knew Zubi was of Arabic descent and Muslim.
The unnamed teacher reportedly told the student that he "didn't mean it like that" shortly after making the remark. Zubi has not returned to school, where he is the captain of the soccer team, following the alleged comment.
"I don't feel like going back, I'm really uncomfortable," Zubi said, "I don't want to see anyone, and I've been in my room all dayâdon't want to see my friends, especially after what that teacher said to me."
School Releases Statement, Teacher Suspended
Not long after the story went viral, popular TikTok user @thatdaneshguy identified the teacher as Daniel Tracey. According to his profile on the school's website. Tracey is an In Class Support teacher and has been with the school for seven years.
In a statement on Twitter, the school said it had zero tolerance for discrimination and that the teacher had been suspended until a full investigation was conducted into the alleged incident.
"The Ridgefield School District has absolutely no tolerance for any sort discrimination against any student or staff member. The District strives to create an inclusive environment where students' & staff members' race, religion, national origin & sexual orientation are embraced," the statement read.
"While the District cannot legally comment on personnel or student matters, the public should be aware that the District immediately suspended the staff member while it is conducting a full investigation. Additionally, the District has notified law enforcement for its assistance.
This is not the first time this week that a math teacher has been suspended over racist behavior. Earlier this week, Candice Reed, a math teacher, was suspended after she was filmed mocking Native Americans while teaching trigonometry at a high school in Riverside, California, as previously reported.