On 26 October 2014, a claim began to circulate online which stated a Marine was banned from his daughter’s school for objecting to a lesson about Islam. The parent in question was identified in the post as Kevin Wood, father of a female student at La Plata High School in Maryland.
According to Wood, he learned of his daughter’s assignment despite an attempt on her part to conceal it from him:
When Kevin Wood stopped by his daughter’s room and asked how she was doing with her homework, she seemed to be hiding it from him. He took the papers and looked at them, but what he found made him livid.
Her world history class talked about Muhammad and the tenets of Islamic religion … comparing it to Christianity, but without allowing Christians to be heard. It indoctrinated the students with false ideas of Islam, and did not give them a true picture. History is literally being re-written.
Wood stated he was initially told his daughter would be given an alternate assignment, but the school rescinded the offer:
But later, the Vice Principal of the school, “Miss Morris” told them that if their daughter did not complete that original assignment, she would receive a zero or an “F.” Outraged, Mr. Wood told the school that he would be bringing the media in to the issue. The Vice Principal then contacted the court and filed a restraining order against Mr. Wood, effectively banning him from coming to the school his daughter attends.
After Wood’s claims circulated heavily on social sites like Facebook, La Plata High School officials commented to a local news outlet about the situation. According to the school, Wood was not banned over his objection to the assignment.
On 23 October 2014, the school’s principal filed for a no-trespass order against Wood. A representative for La Plata High School said the move was unusual and the parent had allegedly threatened to “cause a disruption” in remarks made to a vice principal:
La Plata High School Principal Evelyn Arnold filed for a no-trespass order against Kevin Wood of La Plata Thursday, Oct. 23.
“The assignment has been given for years,” said Katie O’Malley-Simpson. “This particular parent had a problem with the assignment last Thursday.
“It is unusual [to ban a parent from a school],” she added. “We don’t file no trespassing charges lightly. We would only do that when we feel someone has threatened the safety of staff and students.”
Charles County Public Schools, the district in which La Plata High School is located, released a statement to parents about the situation:
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) social studies curriculum adheres to the Maryland World History curricular standards that are a requirement for all counties in the state. These standards include an analysis of the elements of culture such as art, music, religion, government, social structure, education, beliefs and customs in societies throughout history. Regarding the study of history specifically, the standards also state that students should be able to analyze the customs and beliefs of world religions and their expansion, as well as how their establishment has impacted other areas of culture, and in certain times and regions, even caused conflict.
The particular unit in question at La Plata High School is on the formation of Middle Eastern empires in which students learned the basic concepts of the Islamic faith and how it, along with politics, culture, economics and geography, contributed to the development of the Middle East. Other religions are introduced when they influence or impact a particular historical era or geographic region. For example, when reviewing the Renaissance and Reformation, students study the concepts and role of Christianity. When learning about the development of China and India, students examine Hinduism and Buddhism.
There is also misinformation about why the school issued a No Trespass Order on a parent. This parent threatened to cause problems that would potentially disrupt La Plata High School this morning. To ensure the safety of students and staff at the school, the school administration placed a No Trespass Order on this parent.
A representative for the school stated none of the material in question was religiously indoctrinating in nature, and the lesson on Islam was a part of a larger world history curriculum.
In January 2016, the Thomas More Law Center announced that they had filed a lawsuit against the Charles County Public School on behalf of John and Melissa Wood:
The lawsuit seeks a court declaration that the defendants violated the plaintiff’s constitutional and statutory rights; a temporary and permanent injunction barring the defendants from endorsing Islam or favoring Islam over Christianity and other religions; and from enforcing the no trespassing order issued against John Kevin Wood in October 2014.
“[T]he defendants forced Wood’s daughter to disparage her Christian faith by reciting the Shahada, and acknowledging Mohammed as her spiritual leader,”President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center Richard Thompson said. “Her world history class spent one day on Christianity and two weeks immersed in Islam. Such discriminatory treatment of Christianity is an unconstitutional promotion of one religion over another.”