Local News

Enloe Teacher Suspended With Pay After Speaker Controversy

Posted March 1, 2007 2:08 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2007 9:04 a.m. EST

— A social studies teacher at Enloe High School has been suspended with pay after an invited speaker criticized Islam.

Officials said Robert Escamilla invited Kamil Solomon to talk with students on Feb. 16. Students said Solomon, who heads up the Kamil International Ministries Organization, handed out a pamphlet entitled, “Why Women Should Not Marry Muslims.”

The pamphlet Solomon handed out includes passages like, "To be a Muslim's wife means you would sacrifice your freedom. Do you like to be a partner or a prisoner?"

Another passage says "there's an Arabic saying that says, My son comes first, then my horse, then my wife."

Some students and parents have complained to school-system officials. Attorneys with the Wake County School Board are interviewing students, faculty, and school administrators about the incident.

"It's disheartening. However, within the context of it, we want to make sure that when we make a decision, we find out what exactly happened," said Michael Evans, a representative with Wake County schools. "We want to make the best decision possible, not only to resolve this particular situation, but then also what's going to happen going forward."

In a letter sent to faculty and staff by Enloe principal Beth Cochran, she wrote about the use of guest speakers at the school:

"Guest speakers can provide a wonderful enrichment opportunity for our students by bringing unique personal experiences and various points of view that can significantly enhance our students’ education. When we invite speakers into our classrooms, however, there is an expectation that the presentation is not only aligned with the standard course of study, but is also relevant to the class unit and appropriate in tone and topic for high school students in a public school setting."

The ACLU of North Carolina is also investigating the incident.

“We are deeply disappointed by the manner in which the school has thus far handled these serious allegations,” said Jennifer Rudinger, Executive Director of the ACLU-NCLF. "In the face of overwhelming evidence that proselytizing took place in this public school, school officials have insisted on miscasting this as a free speech issue. Children’s religious upbringing should be directed by their parents, not by government officials entrusted with teaching students to read and write. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was designed to prevent this very activity."

ACLU officials said if the school does not acknowledge what happened, a lawsuit may be filed. The group also wants assurances that the incident will not be repeated.