A Riverheads High School world geography teacher in Staunton is being accused of attempting to convert her students to Islam.
On the subject of major world religions, Cheryl LaPorte assigned a worksheet on Islam that included an exercise about the difficulty of writing calligraphy. Students were asked to imitate the Shahada, or the Islamic statement of faith, as best as they could in the advanced style of handwriting.
The Shahada translates to, “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”
Parents confirmed that female students in the class were also invited to wear Muslim apparel and were photographed by LaPorte, according to Rob Schilling, who broke the story on “The Schilling Show.” The teacher had previously sent a copy of the Koran around the classroom.
Some parents took these acts as a sign that their children were in the process of being indoctrinated to the Islamic faith.
After receiving a significant number of phone calls and e-mails from angry or concerned parents, representatives of the county school system said “a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future,” according to a report by CNN.
“Neither of these lessons, nor any other lessons in the world geography course, are an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief,” Augusta County Schools Superintendent Eric Bond said in a statement.
Though officials said there were no threats of harm to students, based on concerns regarding the tone and content of those communications, Sheriff Randy Fisher and Bond decided to close all Augusta County schools today.
“We regret having to take this action, but we are doing so based on the recommendations of law enforcement and the Augusta County School Board out of an abundance of caution,” the statement says.
After-school activities were also canceled Thursday.
“If a group of Muslims instead of Christians emailed the school board enough to intimidate them into shutting down schools, we would label it terrorism,” Shenandoah Valley resident Chase Dunn wrote on Facebook. “This is terrorism.”