Small victory by Islamic Mom; no reasonable efforts made, lawsuit filed
- Sent: Friday, June 02, 2006 12:33 PMSubject: Small victory in OH by Islamic Mom; no reasonable efforts made, lawsuit filedCaseworker disallowed Islamic prayers.NAACP files complaint with Justice Department over the disproportionate seizing of African-American children by CSB in Ohio.Lawsuit filed in Federal Court alleging harassment.Mom's girls kept in FC for over a year, while the charges against her were changed, and expanded.Suit says Children Services tried to steer kids from IslamFriday, June 02, 2006THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
A Grandview Heights mother who fought Franklin County Children Services after her daughters were placed in foster care for a year says that the agency tried to steer the children from Islam to Christianity.
Hadiya AbdulSalaam, who was cleared of neglect charges last year, has filed a federal lawsuit in Columbus claiming discrimination and harassment.
"Its a despicable and horrifying example of abuse of governmental power," said her attorney, Rex Elliot.
John Saros, executive director of Children Services, declined to talk about specific allegations, but said there was "no violation of federal rights as we pursued our effort to provide services to this family."
The suit, filed Wednesday, contends that caseworkers attempted to persuade the girls to renounce Islam, in part by falsely reporting that AbdulSalaam forced her children to work long hours in the family store to the detriment of their education and well-being, and that she was physically and emotionally abusive.
It also says the agency, through the foster parents with whom the girls lived, encouraged the daughters to adopt Christianity. Children Services also initiated contact with the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, which resulted in AbdulSalaam being evicted and made homeless, the suit says.
AbdulSalaam complained that Children Services refused to place her daughters with a Muslim foster family, to meet with Muslim leaders and to allow the family prayers during visits.
Saros has said the girls, raised as Christians until their mothers second marriage, were reluctant to return home if they were to be home-schooled and raised as Muslims.
Children Services filed a complaint in July 2003, alleging that AbdulSalaam failed to meet basic needs of Makeba, 14; Meserete, 16; and Masika, 18. The youngest two were placed in foster homes, the eldest was returned because she is an adult.
In the year the children were in foster homes, the trial was postponed repeatedly and charges against AbdulSalaam altered. She was accused of failing to provide proper clothing, education, food, shelter and emotional and medical care. Eventually, the claim was reduced to a failure to provide proper education. The agency said AbdulSalaam forced the girls to work long unsupervised hours at the couples Salaams Caravan store Downtown.
Makeba and Meserete were returned to AbdulSalaam in July 2004. Two months later, a Franklin County Juvenile Court magistrate ruled they had been neglected and inappropriately forced to work.
Judge Carole S. Squire overruled the magistrate in October and said Children Services had failed to make reasonable efforts to help the family before placing the children in foster care.
Squire said she was "appalled" a caseworker had told a counseling center not to let the family hold prayers together.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a grievance with the U.S. Department of Justice over AbdulSalaams case, saying that a disproportionate number of black children are placed in foster care here. A Justice Department mediator is expected to issue a report on the issue this summer.