Pembroke Pines teacher fired after video shows her interrupting Muslim students’ prayer

“I believe in Jesus so I’m interrupting the floor,” teacher is heard saying in video

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A Broward County teacher was fired after a video of her interrupting Muslim students while in prayer went viral.

The teacher, who has not yet been identified, worked at Franklin Academy, a charter school in Pembroke Pines.

The video starts with tranquil music and a couple of boys reciting an Islamic prayer in Arabic.

Shortly after, you can hear the teacher saying, “Hold on, this in my office and y’all doing this magic?”

A woman identified as another teacher barges in and starts blowing a whistle.

The teacher is then heard saying, “I believe in Jesus so I’m interrupting the floor.”

The same teacher appeared to step or kick the boys’ hands as she walked over their mats.

The video was posted on TikTok Wednesday and has already racked up over five million views.

Wilfredo Ruiz, of the Council on American and Islamic Relations, told Local 10 News’ Cody Weddle that the video is “repulsive” and that the teacher’s actions were a clear case of bullying.

“To see a teacher expressing so much hate and bullying students when teachers are supposed to be the ones that protect the students and protect their good doings, such as this one,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz questions the future of students that want to pray in school and enrich their environment.

“What we expect to happen in schools is for our students to have full support in their activities,” he said. “Not only their academic activities but any activities that enrich their academic environment.”

Azad Ali, Chairman of the Darul Uloom Institute, told Local 10 News’ Amy Viteri his problem with how the teach reacted.

“That’s a form of extremism and I don’t believe in extremism of any kind,” he said. “Whether it’s my religion--Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews.”

While the Supreme Court has ruled that public schools may not hold official prayers, student-led prayer that does not interrupt instructional time is protected under the First Amendment.

Ali said that he agrees with the school’s decision but that she should also learn from the incident.

“I think the school did a good job but what I think they should have done is they should have spoken to her and tried to re-educate her on accepting other people’s beliefs,” he said.

Mohamed Haniff, a member of the Muslim community, pointed out the way the teacher walked right through their prayers, which Muslims are required to do five times a day.

“That’s not right,” he said. “It cannot be right and it cannot be tolerated either.”

Franklin Academy released the following statement to Local 10 News Thursday:

“Earlier today, a very troubling TikTok video was shared with our leadership team. The video appears to show a teacher interrupting students during a moment of prayer. Upon receipt of the video, organizational and school leadership began immediately investigating the situation.

“Franklin Academy does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. As many know, we are an International Baccalaureate (IB) school system, and as part of the IB initiatives to which we are committed, Franklin aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural and racial understanding and respect. We not only look for our student body to develop these traits but for our faculty and staff to exemplify them as well.

“While we do not discuss personnel matters, we can share with you that the teacher in question is no longer a member of the Franklin Academy staff.

“We thank our parents for partnering with us and trusting us with their child(ren) and their education. Through the continued communication that we foster as a team, our schools can only become stronger.”

Local 10 News’ Liane Morejon contributed to this story.

About the Authors:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.