Special to WorldTribune.com
A Marine veteran has filed a lawsuit after being banned from his daughter’s school for more than a year after he raised objections to the school’s pro-Islam curriculum.
John Kevin Wood is asking a judge to remove the ban so he can watch his daughter graduate from La Plata High School in Charles County, Maryland.
“She’s in the final semester of her senior year, and as it stands right now, she’s going to have to go through that life experience without her dad there,” said Kate Oliveri, a lawyer from the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center who is representing the Wood family.
In October 2014, Wood’s daughter showed him several assignments for her 11th grade World History class in which she was required to memorize the Five Pillars of Islam and to write and recite the shahada, the Muslim statement of faith that says “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
According to school papers submitted to federal court, the curriculum said that most Muslims’ faith is “stronger than the average Christian.”
Wood, who lost two friends in combat during Operation Desert Storm, said the school wasn’t just teaching Islam but was promoting it in a way that amounted to an assault on his family’s Christian faith.
After Wood voiced objections to the assignments and requested alternative work for his daughter in October 2014, school officials issued a no-trespass order against him. He has not been allowed on La Plata High campus since.
Last month, Wood and his wife, Melissa, sued the Charles County school system, alleging that La Plata High’s lessons on Islam violated their daughter’s civil and constitutional rights.
Wood is also asking the court to rescind the no-trespass order, alleging that the ban violates his First Amendment rights to speak about and advocate for his daughter’s activities at a public school. School officials banned him only because they disagreed with him and “wanted to quash criticism of their pro-Islamic curriculum,” he argued in a motion filed on Feb. 22.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the lawsuit is “an example of the anti-Islam campaign that’s being waged nationwide in schools.”
“It’s just this hysterical knee-jerk negative reaction to anything to do with Islam or Muslims in our society,” Hooper said. “To merely say the shahada, the declaration of faith, or to understand what Muslims believe — it in no way converts you to Islam, that’s a ridiculous notion. Islam is a belief system. You’ve got to believe in it or you’re not a Muslim.”