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Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Against Philadelphia School District Over Grooming Policy

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Tim Jimenez Tim Jimenez
Tim Jimenez is a general assignment reporter at KYW Newsradio...
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By Tim Jimenez

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A school police officer’s beard, his religious beliefs, and a grooming policy is the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the School District of Philadelphia.

Siddiq Abu-Bakr has been a School District of Philadelphia police officer a since 1987. He’s Muslim and the Department of Justice, in this lawsuit, alleges the school district discriminated against him after a new grooming policy went into effect.

Starting in 2010 school police and security officer’s couldn’t have their beards longer than a quarter-inch.

And according to this suit, Abu-Bakr told his supervisor he couldn’t trim his beard because it would violate his religious beliefs, the policy went into effect and then he was written up.

In the complaint, the feds say his request for accommodation, with a letter signed by his imam, was met by an answer from a district official saying, “the integrity of the policy outweighed” his request.

Abu-Bakr’s claim first went to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before this suit was filed. The feds are looking for the district to change their policy and for Abu-Bakr and others to get monetary damages.

School District of Philadelphia officials could not be reached for comment.

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