NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mounting criticism of Islam lessons in Tennessee public schools convinced the American Center for Law & Justice to request details on the curriculum in the state’s 146 school districts.
But an attorney representing several school districts and the state’s superintendents association is providing a sample letters for school to reject the requests based on a technicality in Tennessee law, The Tennessean reports.
Attorney Chuck Cagle with the Lewis Thomason law firm wrote a sample letter for the 70-plus Tennessee school districts he represents to reject the open records requests submitted by the ACLJ earlier this month.
“Our client denies your request in full,” the letter reads. “Among many other defects in your demand, the Tennessee Open Records Act only requires that certain public records be made available for personal inspection by Tennessee citizens.
“See Tenn. Code Ann. § 10-7-503(a)(1)(B). A public records request made by an agent on behalf of a foreign business entity is invalid. Without waiving numerous other defects in your demand, your request is denied.”
Cagle also claims the request would cost Tennessee schools a lot of money to retrieve the records requested.
“On the front end, this could cost school boards hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to respond to this request,” he told WSMV.
The ACLJ’s records requests are part of a broader effort by the nonprofit to educate Tennessee parents about lessons on Islam taught in public schools that’s also included a recent public service video, according to the news site.
“Imagine your child or grandchild forced to recite the Islamic conversion creed in school,” the video voiceover said. “It’s happening. In Tennessee, public middle school students are being taught to write, ‘Allah is the only God.’”
More than 200,000 people have also signed an ACLJ petition to stop “Islamic indoctrination in schools, according to the news site.
The issue came to a boil this month when St. Juliet pastor Greg Locke created a video posted online that called on students to “take an F” on their Sept. 11 test on Islam. Locke pointed out that local schools devote three weeks of lessons to Islam – with dozens of textbook pages on the religion – while largely ignoring Christianity, EAGnews reports.
“Let me tell you something, when they are in sixth grade they get a half a page of watered down Christianity that has about as much Bible as a thimble, if you will, and now there’s 28 pages they have to learn about Islam, and Mohammad, and how it all came about, and about the holy Koran, and the Five Pillars of Islam, and how they pray, and when they pray, and where they pray, and how they pray, and why they pray, and about pilgrimages and all this and then they say that Allah is the only God,” Locke said in the video, which quickly went viral.
Islamic leaders, of course, are defending the lessons on Islam, while state officials claim Tennessee education standards require schools to teach about all the major world religions, though curriculum decisions are made locally.
“I don’t know if this is meant to be a witch hunt, but all of the religions – Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism Hinduism – they’re being taught in the schools,” Rashed Fakhruddin, head of the Islamic Center of Nashville, told WSMV.
The ACLJ requested school assignments in which students recite prayers, chant or speak in Arabic from all of the state’s 146 school districts. And while Cagle is advising many on how to avoid the request, the Tennessee School Boards Association is also weighing in.
“I think the concern initially was the sheer magnitude and scope of the request,” TSBA attorney Randall Bennett said. “It was massive.”
Cagle said he expects ACLJ to work with a local resident to resubmit its records requests, and he’s already working to shame the effort.
“If we get valid records requests, school system employees will be pulled off other assignments and have to pull these documents together or produce the documents,” he said.
The uproar about lessons on Islam aren’t restricted to Tennessee. Hundreds of parents in Georgia are also outraged by similar lessons and plan to vent their frustrations at a Walton County school board meeting next month, EAGnews reports.