Mother of student at center of discrimination investigation in Chesterfield speaks out

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Amy Warner is speaking out for the first time since she said her daughter was forced to run in gym class while fasting for Ramadan.

We first told you about the story last week after that parent contacted the ACLU who sent a letter to Chesterfield schools on her behalf asking for an explanation.

“This is not the first time that I feel like my child’s rights as an American citizen were violated,” said Warner.

Warner says she was a teacher for ten years in Florida and that her kids have always attended public schools without any problems until moving to Virginia.

Warner’s kids were students at Bellwood Elementary school last year. Back in May she says her daughter was forced to run in gym class even though she told her teacher she was fasting for Ramadan, a practice during the Islamic holy month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. Warner says she met with the school’s principal ahead of time to let her know.

“From 4 o’clock in the morning to close to 8:30 p.m. at night they’re not going to be eating, they’re not going to be drinking, not even water. I don’t want them to overexert themselves,” said Warner.

But Warner says her daughter’s gym teacher ignored her, forced her to run and when he wasn’t satisfied, he made the entire class continue running repeatedly as punishment.

“You’re humiliating that kid in front of the class and you’re setting them up to be bullied because they’re slow. Ignorance is not an excuse,” said Warner

Warner says her daughter started feeling sick.

“If a kid says to me I don’t feel good, I feel nauseous, and they’re running, the last thing I’m going to say to them is well you better run again, better keep running,” said Warner.

She also says it’s not the first time her daughter has been singled out. She says earlier in the year another teacher told her daughter she may have to remove her head scarf.

“The comment about her head scarf, my kid was bullied for not being able to eat pork, I mean it was just awful all year. This for me was the cherry on top,” said Warner.

Warner says ultimately she’d like to see cultural sensitivity training and change in Chesterfield.

“I’m not trying to sue, I’m not trying to get money, I’m not trying to get anything, I would like to see change,” said Warner.

The school system sent a response to the ACLU last week saying they were deeply concerned and would be conducting a full investigation. Here’s a link to last week’s story with the letter sent from the ACLU and the response from Chesterfield.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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