A Muslim high school student’s intolerance for a service dog needed by a student teacher with a disability has reportedly prompted the student teacher to abandon the last 10 hours of his scheduled assignment at Technical High School in St. Cloud, Minn.
The St. Cloud Times online said the situation developed with student teacher Tyler Hurd, 23, of Mahtomedi, who hopes to teach special education.
He’s a student at St. Cloud State University, and was assigned to Technical High School in the St. Cloud district for his 50 hours of student teaching, and took with him his service dog, Emmitt.
The newspaper said Hurd needs a service dog because of a childhood injury that leaves him with seizures, sometimes happening as often as weekly. The black lab is trained to protect Hurd when he has a seizure.
The school district told the newspaper it wasn’t really a threat.
“I think it was a misunderstanding where we didn’t really prepare either side for possible implications,” Julia Espe, curriculum director for the public schools, said.
Hurd, however, reported a student threatened to kill his dog. He said the threat came from a Somali student who is Muslim. Minnesota has a large Somali population, mostly Muslim, and they have been involved in issues over their religion in the past.
At the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, many taxi drivers are Somali Muslims and they have raised objections to carrying passengers with liquor. Airport officials finally threatened to remove from the cab drivers’ line waiting for fares anyone who refused a passenger over the issue.
WND also has reported on the dispute over a taxpayer-funded school in a Minneapolis suburb serving mostly Somali Muslim students and accusations that Islam is being taught at the public facility.
Islam forbids its adherents from touching dogs.
Hurd earlier spent some time student teaching at Talahi Community School, where he said his experience was good. He told the newspaper Somali students there even petted his dog, although they used paper to keep their hands from actually making physical contact.
But at Tech, Hurd reported, students taunted his dog, and he left when he was told a student threatened the animal.
University officials said they waived the remaining 10 hours of work that Hurd was supposed to have finished.
“We came up with a solution because I felt threatened by it,” Hurd told the newspaper.
A meeting was set up involving Kate Steffens, the dean of education at St. Cloud State, and assistant principal Lori Lockhart of Tech, in order to avoid future problems.
“We certainly welcome (Hurd) in our district, and we hope we can get this all resolved so he feels welcome and his dog is welcome,” Espe said.
The college places about 1,000 students in 240 regional schools to help them get ready for careers in teaching.
On the newspaper’s forum, “scorpionthoughts” said: “The last time I checked this is the United States of America!!!!! So many people are getting shipped over here and expect to be treated like they and their beliefs are better …. If you don’t like the way things are in this country – stay in your own … place of origin!!!”