An Orthodox Jewish high school in New York is investigating an incident where more than one hundred of its students were kicked off an early morning AirTran flight on Monday.
Yeshivah of Flatbush's senior class trip was detoured after 101 students and eight chaperones were kicked off a plane bound for Atlanta. Southwest, which owns AirTran, said the group of "non-compliant passengers" would not stay in their seats, and some were using their cell phones after being asked to turn them off, CNN reports.
The students and chaperones involved insist that Southwest Airlines crew members overreacted to the situation, CNN reports.
"It blew out of proportion. It was a mountain out of a molehill," teacher Marian Wielgus, one of the eight chaperones, told CNN. "They certainly did not do what the stewardess was claiming they did ... That's what was so bizarre."
Ms. Wielgus also told CNN that the AirTran flight attendants were "nasty," "overreacting" and "created an incident when there didn't have to be one."
One student believes the group was targeted for its religious affiliation, suggesting that Southwest Airlines made up the story about the unruly group in order to cover up the staff's anti-Semitic behavior.
"They treated us like we were terrorists; I've never seen anything like it. I'm not someone to make these kinds of statements," Jonathan Zehavi told CNN. "I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn't have dared to kick them off."
Several students told CNN that the airline did its best by getting them on the next available flights, but their school isn't taking the matter lightly.
"We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation," said a statement released Tuesday by Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the Yeshiva of Flatbush school. "Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified."
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