IRVING, Texas (AP) – The school district where a Muslim student was suspended for his homemade clock has called media coverage of the incident “very unbalanced” and said it needed permission from the boy’s family to release more information.
A month later, with critics questioning why the information request had not yet been granted, the Irving school district acknowledges it initially sent the request to the wrong lawyer, The Dallas Morning News reported.
After Ahmed Mohamed’s family canceled appointments to meet with city and school officials, a school district attorney sent a letter dated Sept. 14 – three days after Ahmed’s arrest – requesting permission to release records of the incident and the 14-year-old’s disciplinary history to the media.
The letter was sent to attorney Linda Moreno, who appeared with the family at its first news conference. But she says she told the district’s attorney soon after that she wasn’t representing the boy.
School district spokeswoman Lesley Weaver told The Associated Press that letters were then sent Sept. 30 to attorneys Thomas Bowers and Reggie London after the district saw media reports that the family had hired them.
Calls to Bowers and London for comment were not immediately returned Tuesday. The newspaper reported that Ahmed and his father are in Qatar on a global celebrity tour.
Ahmed has said he brought his clock to MacArthur High School in Irving to show a teacher. Officials say he was arrested after another teacher saw it and became concerned it was a bomb. Ahmed wasn’t charged, but he was suspended from school for three days. News of the arrest sparked an outpouring of support for Ahmed, including from President Barack Obama.
Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd had said that while the clock looked “suspicious in nature,” there was no evidence the boy meant to cause alarm.
After the arrest, Weaver said at a news conference that the events described in the media had been “very unbalanced” but that the district had to abide by the federal law protecting student information.
On Tuesday she told the AP some information has since been released that helps explain the school’s response – including a photo of the clock – and that the school district would be happy to provide additional details if given permission by the family.
“It would allow a different viewpoint to be heard,” she said.
When told about the mix-up, Ahmed’s uncle, Aldean Mohamed, told the newspaper, “Why don’t they just send it to the house? They have the address on file.”
Weaver told the AP that when a family indicates it has legal counsel, it’s appropriate to work through the attorney.
The boy’s family submitted paperwork to withdraw him from the suburban Dallas school district on Sept. 22.
Information from: The Dallas Morning News
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