Hijab-wearing student labeled as ‘Isis’ in high school yearbook

Posted at 8:16 AM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 10:18:16-04

Rancho Cucamonga, Ca. - Bayan Zehlif is not Isis. Or ISIS.

But that's how the Muslim student discovered she was identified as in the latest edition of the yearbook at her California high school.

The 11th-grader posted a photo of her yearbook photo to Twitter, saying only, "I guess I'm Isis in the yearbook ..."

"I am extremely saddened, disgusted, hurt and embarrassed that the Los Osos High School yearbook was able to get away with this," she wrote on Facebook. "The school reached out to me and had the audacity to say that this was a typo. I beg to differ, let's be real."

About two hours later, the school's yearbook staff tweeted an apology.

“We are extremely sorry for what occurred in the Yearbook,” the statement said. “It is our duty to represent the students of Los Osos High School and by mis-tagging and giving the incorrect name, we failed to do so. We should have checked each name carefully in the book and we had no intention to create this misunderstanding.

“It is our fault and this is absolutely inexcusable on our part,” the statement continued. “We are currently working in coordination with the school and district office to remedy this situation.”

As of Sunday evening, Zehlif’s tweet and her Facebook post had each been retweeted and shared more than 3,500 times.

On Saturday principal Susan Petrocelli also used social media to issue an apology.

“LOHS is taking every step possible to correct & investigate a regrettable misprint discovered in the yearbook,” Petrocelli stated on Twitter. “We sincerely apologize.”

Superintendent Mat Holton, of the Chaffey Joint Union High School District, said Zehlif was misidentified as another student named Isis, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“If they find that a student acted irresponsibly and intentionally, administration will take appropriate actions,” Holton told the newspaper, adding that 287 yearbooks had been distributed to Los Osos seniors. “The school will assure students, staff and the community that this regrettable incident in no way represents the values, or beliefs, of Los Osos High School.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Sunday that civil rights attorneys from its Los Angeles office are investigating.

"We join with the family in their concern about a possible bias motive for this incident and in the deep concern for their daughter's safety as a result of being falsely labeled as a member of a terrorist group," said Hussam Ayloush, the council's Los Angeles executive director. "No student should have to face the humiliation of being associated with a group as reprehensible as ISIS."

Zehlif, her family and CAIR officials were scheduled to meet with district officials Monday morning, according to the group.

Zehlif has received support in the wake of her postings. Commenters on her social media posts said the mix-up was "utterly disgusting" and "unacceptable."