"This settlement reaffirms the principle that public schools cannot require students to check their faith at the schoolhouse door," said R. Alexander Acosta, assistant attorney general for civil rights. ... The settlement requires the district to put in place a training program for all teachers and administrators about the new dress code and to publicize the change, the AP reported. ... "The Department of Justice will not tolerate discrimination against Muslims or any other religious group. As the president and attorney general have made clear repeatedly, such intolerance is un-American and is morally despicable," Acosta said.
I’m happy for Hern and I’m happy to see the Justice Department fight to defend Muslims against discrimination, but assuming that this “settlement” applies only to the idea that there should be exceptions to things like dress codes for religious reasons, then I don’t think that the settlement or the case turned out very well.
As I wrote last year when Hern was first suspended for wearing her hijab:
It is always a shame when general rules or laws create problems for religious behavior, but there are a couple of facts which need to kept in mind. First, Muslim women are under no absolute obligation to wear head scarves. Women are supposed to dress modestly, which some interpret as requiring head coverings but others interpret as requiring full body covering. This is a matter of personal religious conscience, not general religious obligation.
The second important issue follows closely from the first: there is no legitimate reason to exempt people from general rules or laws for religious reasons if the exemption extends only to religious reasons. Any exemptions, if they are to exist at all, must be available generally to anyone who finds compliance to be a sincere violation of their conscience - this would encompass religious obligations, matters of private religious conscience, and matters of conscience which fall outside of religious structures. Otherwise, the exemptions will favor religious beliefs over non-religious beliefs and, at times, the demands of organized religion over those of loosely structured religious systems. Neither situation is acceptable in a nation which values religious freedom.
I don’t think that anything as changed which would invalidate those points.