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District Settles Suit Brought by Muslim Student

A Nevada school district has settled a lawsuit brought on behalf of a former student who alleged that school officials failed to adequately respond to harassment she suffered because she openly displayed her Muslim faith.

Under the settlement, former student Jana Elhifny will receive $350,000 from the Washoe County school district, which will be paid by the district's insurance carrier. Her lawsuit alleged she was harassed by fellow students for wearing a traditional head scarf in recognition of her Islamic faith and Egyptian heritage. The district also settled a related suit brought by a friend of Elhifny's who says she faced harassment for supporting the Muslim student. That suit was settled for $50,000.

Elhifny was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and the O'Melveny & Myers law firm, which put out this press release about the settlement that was also agreed to by the school district's law firm.

A lawyer representing the district, which admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, says in the release that Elhifny was was offered many education opportunities in response to the harassment in 2003, but she rejected them before withdrawing from district schools.

The Reno-Gazette Journal reports here and the Associated Press reports here.

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