(Atlanta, Georgia 1/2/2024) The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) and the family of a Warner Robins Middle School student who was allegedly threatened with beheading by a teacher over an Israeli flag dispute are calling on the Houston County Board of Education to change communication policy to safeguard families, and for the Sheriff’s Office to take strict measures to ensure the community’s safety.
SEE: Middle school teacher arrested after allegedly threatening to behead Muslim student who said Israeli flag offended her
Alaa Afifi, the father of the Warner Robins Middle School student shared in a statement:
“On December 7th our beloved 13-year-old daughter faced menacing verbal abuse and bone-chilling death threats yelled at her by Mr. Benjamin Reese, a 7th grade Social Studies teacher at Warner Robins Middle School, after she asked him why he displayed an Israeli flag in his classroom.
While our daughter, sensing herself to be in danger in front of this adult man quickly took refuge by walking away and complaining to another teacher, many other students and adults heard Mr. Reese continue his angry and violent tirade. With about 20 witnesses and video evidence in hand, the school took swift action by reporting him to the school duty officer and the Houston County sheriff office, resulting in his arrest the next day. Benjami Reese spent 48 hours in jail and was bonded on December 10, 2023.
However, the school did not inform us about the rest of the incident or the graphic nature of the extended threats that Mr. Reese made.
The story broke out in the media a full week after this terrifying incident and only then did we learn additional gruesome details. Our family has processed the true danger posed to us and others by Mr. Reese. As such, we have the following requests of the authorities involved:
1. We demand a change in the Houston County Board of Education Schools policy that governs the sharing of information between the school and students’ families involved in incidents. In our understanding of the current policy, families are not entitled to information under school investigation regardless of the severity of the danger to students.
We did not know about the full extent of the disturbing and dangerous threats that Mr. Reese made to our daughter until we learned about it from the news. Some of the most graphic threats were even worse than what our daughter heard herself. By then, Mr. Reese had already posted the low bond bail set for him by the Magistrate Court of Houston County and was roaming free in Warner Robins unbeknownst to us. It frightens us that a man capable of such violent thoughts and posing a high risk to our lives is living freely among us without any monitoring while the school all but concealed the threats he made against our daughter.
We demand that Houston County Board of Education Schools change the current information sharing policy and do much more to ensure the safety of their students in these and other serious situations. No family should be left in the dark to face such threats uninformed and unprepared.
2. We question the Magistrate Court of Houston County’s “Special Conditions of Bond” issued on December 10, 2023 and to release Mr. Benjamin Reese on $2,500 for terroristic threats and act-felony and $5,000 for cruelty to children third degree-misdemeanor without house arrest nor an ankle monitor to ensure the safety of our daughter. We feel strongly that this low bail bond amount does not reflect the severity of his crime and is not a sufficient deterrent for such abhorrent behavior of an educator in a school environment that is supposed to be safe for students.
Benjamin Reese had voiced a detailed and gruesome plan with a stated place and method to end the life of our 13-year-old daughter. We ask that Houston County take strict measures to keep Mr. Reese under house arrest or under surveillance so that people in Warner Robins can be assured of their safety.
3. We believe that Mr. Reese is not fit to be an educator of the Houston County Board of Education School system nor in the state of Georgia School system. We request the Houston County Board of Education ensure that Mr. Reese’s Georgia Ethics assessment certification GACE be revoked so he is not allowed to teach at any school in future.”
Azka Mahmood, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director stated:
“While we applaud the swift action taken by the school against Benjamin Reese immediately after the incident, authorities in Houston County owe their citizens a lot more to prevent future harm. Houston County set an extremely low bond for Benjamin Reese’s release. We are concerned that this potentially violent man is free and has been free for several days, posing a threat to unsuspecting Muslims in Warner Robins.”
SEE ALSO: CAIR-Georgia Welcomes Arrest and Suspension of Pro-Israel Teacher Who Allegedly Threatened to Beat, Behead Muslim Student – CAIR Georgia
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
CONTACT: Azka Mahmood, CAIR-Georgia Executive Director [email protected], 678 653 5822