The leader of an Arabic enrichment program has claimed that she and a group of children were told to stay out of the water at a public pool in Delaware due to the clothing they were wearing.
Tahsiyn A. Ismaa’eel has taken groups of children to the Foster Brown Public Pool in Wilmington for four years but has never faced an issue up until now, reports Delaware Online. Ismaa’eel said the kids were wearing shorts, shirts, and hijabs when the pool manager informed her that there was a city policy against cotton clothing in public pools. She said that rule is never enforced and added, "There’s nothing posted that says you can’t swim in cotton. At the same time, there are other kids with cotton on."
Ismaa’eel, who is the owner and principal of the Darul-Amaanah Academy, told the pool manager that she would pass on this information to the children's parents. This was not enough for the manager, who proceeded to ask a police officer to come over. "She (later) had a police officer come over and ask what time we were leaving," Ismaa’eel explained. "She said there are people waiting to get in and waiting for you to leave," she said of the police officer.
Ismaa’eel noted that there were other people at the pool longer than she was. "We were approached first about the cotton, and then it became, 'Oh, the pool is overcapacity so you need to leave.' ... I felt very unwanted," she said.
John Rago, Mayor Mike Purzycki's deputy chief of staff for policy and communication, said in a statement to Delaware Online, "There are city rules and regulations designed to ensure the safety of those who use the pools. One of the rules requires that all swimmers wear proper swimming attire."
Mayor Purzycki said in a statement that was released after the story was originally published, "I apologize to the children who were directed to leave a city pool because of the religious-required clothing they were wearing. We also referred to vaguely-worded pool policies to assess and then justify our poor judgment, and that was also wrong."