A United States Marines veteran claims that he is effectively banned from his daughter’s upcoming high school graduation because he had previously fought with the school over lessons about Islam, the Washington Post is reporting.
John Kevin Wood has sued the Charles County (Maryland) school system, seeking an injunction that will allow him to attend his daughter’s high school graduation in a few months. Wood is currently banned from La Plata High School, and he says he has not been allowed on campus since October, 2014.
Back in October, 2014, Wood says, his daughter and her classmates in a World History class were given assignments that Wood believes promote Islam. Specifically, Wood says his daughter was required to memorize the Five Pillars of Islam, as well as recite the Shahada — that is, the Muslim statement of faith (“There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.”)
He also claims that the lessons promoted Islam over Christianity, by making such statements as “most Muslims’ faith is stronger than the average Christian’s.”
Further, the assignments also said that Islam is a “peaceful religion,” and that Jihad is a “holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; a personal struggle in devotion to Islam especially involving spiritual discipline.”
In court filings, Wood, who is a Christian, says that the assignment violated his daughter’s First Amendment rights by promoting Islam. Wood, who fought in Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s and lost Marine buddies in combat, believes that he has first-hand experience about the “dangers” of Islam.
“For eight years, Mr. Wood served his country in the United States Marine Corps. As part of his service, Mr. Wood fought on behalf of the United States in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, Mr. Wood continued serving the people of our country as a firefighter and first responder. This service included responding to the Islamic terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 at the Pentagon, where he witnessed destruction and carnage created in the name of Islam.”
Wood called the school to express his concerns about the Islam assignment, and request his daughter be given an alternate assignment.
What happened next is a matter of dispute.
In a letter dated October 24, 2014, which you can view here, school officials at La Plata High School claimed that the Marine veteran made “verbal threats” against the school, and banned him from the property. Should he set foot on campus, the letter said, he will be considered trespassing and the police will be called.
Wood denies making any verbal threats against the school. He does admit that he threatened to take his story to the media if he didn’t get any satisfaction from the school.
Regardless of who is right or who is wrong in the dispute, one thing remains clear, according to Kate Oliveri, a lawyer from the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center who is representing the Wood family: Wood’s ban from campus means he will miss his daughter’s high school graduation.
“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.”
School officials have declined to comment on the Marine’s lawsuit, saying they can’t publicly speak about pending litigation.
Do you believe the Marine veteran deserves to have his ban lifted so he can attend his daughter’s graduation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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