Local News

Enloe Students Plan Protest to Support Suspended Teacher

Posted May 31, 2007 10:58 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2007 5:09 a.m. EDT

— A group of Enloe High School students are planning a silent protest Friday in support of a suspended teacher who taught social studies.

But some say teacher Robert Escamilla's lucky to still have a job.

Virginia Dresser and some of her Enloe classmates are on a personal crusade to support their former teacher.

Escamilla was suspended with pay after he invited the leader of a Christian organization to a class who handed out pamphlets - critical of Islam. He has since been transferred from Enloe to an alternative high school because of the February incident.

Dresser calls Escamilla a respected teacher. She and her friends want him back at Enloe.

“He understands that we can decide what’s right and wrong for ourselves,” Dresser said. “We can understand bias. We can recognize bias. He knows we’re intelligent enough to make our own decisions.”

Tariq Butt is the parent of an Enloe student who brought attention to the controversial speaker. Butt identifies with the Muslim Faith. After watching a recent interview with Escamilla on WRAL, Butt said it appeared Escamilla missed the point about the pain his actions caused.

“The issue isn’t about talking about religion at school but trashing another religion and promoting another religion,” But said. “The fact that he did not understand made me feel like he’s lucky he’s still teaching and he hasn’t been fired.”

Wake County Schools officials said Escamilla crossed the line and that the speaker was "unacceptable.”

Escamilla contends he doesn't try to force his Christian beliefs on his students. He thinks school leaders want to put a muzzle on free speech. Escamilla's attorney said they are considering legal action.