Sacked Muslim teaching assistant rejects compensation offer

Suriyah Bi

A teaching assistant who was sacked for objecting to young children being shown graphic footage of 9/11 has turned down a compensation offer from the school and has vowed to fight the case in court.

The Guardian reports that Suriyah Bi, 24, was dismissed from the Heartlands Academy in Birmingham, when she raised concerns about the footage of people jumping to their deaths.

Bi felt it was inappropriate for her class of 11- and 12-year-old special needs children to see footage of the attacks.

The following day, Bi raised the issue, along with several other unrelated concerns. Just over an hour later she was dismissed.

The Heartlands Academy in Birmingham
The Heartlands Academy in Birmingham

The school has offered Bi £11,000 in compensation for loss of earnings, 15 months after she was first dismissed.

But Bi has rejected the payout and is seeking an apology and is prepared to take the case to a full employment tribunal in December.

She said: “I raised what I felt was a valid concern. This video was incredibly graphic – bodies were falling from the building and there were closeup shots. It was not appropriate.

Birmingham MP Liam Byrne has called for the education secretary to investigate the case. He added: “At every step, an unaccountable academy giant has tried to shut down and smother Suriyah Bi’s voice – and then try to have her blacklisted. Yet Suriyah’s only ‘crime’ was speaking up for children.”

The school referred the Guardian to E-Act, the academy’s sponsor, for comment. The company, which is expected to contest Bi’s claims at the tribunal, said: “The employment case with Ms Bi is still ongoing, and as such we have no further comment at this time.”

The case is due to start on 5 December and is expected to last five days if a mutual agreement is not reached at a mediation hearing on 23 November.

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