Parents of students at Greenville, Virginia’s Riverheads High School were shocked by a recent assignment given in World Geography class.

Classroom teacher, Cheri Laporte, asked students to practice “calligraphy” by copying the Muslim statement of faith, also known as the shahada, which translates as:

“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Recitation of the shahada is a fundamental step in conversion to Islam.

According to parents, students were not informed of the translation or of the specific meaning of the Arabic text the students were being asked to copy. In addition, parents confirm that female students were invited to don Muslim apparel and subsequently were photographed in costume by the teacher. (Reportedly, an administrator has since disposed of the photos.)

A post-assignment emergency meeting held with the teacher, a parent, and schools administration yielded the following additional information:

  • Teacher Laporte was aware of the translation of the text assigned and was unapologetic over the assignment itself
  • Apparel representing other religions was not presented in the lesson
  • Teacher Laporte previously had circulated a Koran in the classroom, but had intentionally declined to make a Bible available because “all of the students already have read or seen a Bible”
  • School administration confirmed that this lesson was not in the Augusta School Division’s approved curriculum for World Geography

After the meeting, one parent responded in reference to the teacher:

I do not trust her to teach my son and regardless of the outcome he will not sit in her classroom. I am in the process of forgiving her but I do not trust her.

Riverheads High School Principal, Max Lowe, did not directly acknowledge an inquiry requesting confirmation of the incident, clarification of policy, and disciplinary measures, if any, taken against Ms. Laporte.

A community meeting of concerned parents is scheduled for further discussion of the assignment and its aftermath.

197 COMMENTS

  1. Anthony Bryant there is solid testimony from brave witnesses of the children in the class who were on the front lines of her abuse of their rights. She was reported to have called them racist for not wanting to participate. She is a loose cannon. The kids, WE parents WHO were DIRECTLY involved and had our rights infringed upon ARE STAYING OUR COURSE!

  2. Lana Whited not learning that they exist.That is not the issue at hand. Our grounds are blatantly deciding which religion she deems fit to teach and her own decision on how long it needs to be taught. She has broken the law.

  3. John Rudolph we will speak to people who know exactly what she has done, according to the law, that was wrong. I'm not taking the half baked explanation of a county trying to cover their butts as fact. It's all about who you talk to. We are staying our course.

  4. John Rudolph we will speak to people who know exactly what she has done, according to the law, that was wrong. I'm not taking the half baked explanation of a county trying to cover their butts as fact. It's all about who you talk to. We are staying our course.

  5. While the piece seems to float plenty of spin, I don't believe the teacher should be fired. However, when she taught the calligraphy portion – it HAD to come out – a student had to ask what it meant. THERE was the problem. Religious doctrine came out into the lesson plan. These units of religion need to only cover the socio-cultural and historical aspects of the faiths and nothing more. Further, having students wear Islamic head covering is equivalent to having a Christian student wear a Jewish Yamika and then the student coming home to reveal to his parents what is being taught in the lesson. Rightfully so, the parents have every reason to be upset. They are paying taxes – and if I had kids who were under her direction, I wouldn't want her fired – I'd want the entire faculty, particularly the History Department Head – to review this. I'd also want the principal start monitoring the teacher with more scrutiny. The principal and faculty need to stringently review the Islam unit – and, also cover the SOL requirements and they'd realize that having students wear Islamic clothing and covering the Shahada in the lesson needs to be removed.

    I'm sure this teacher is doing a very good job. She merely crossed the line and should identify where she failed in the Islamic unit.

  6. While the piece seems to float plenty of spin, I don't believe the teacher should be fired. However, when she taught the calligraphy portion – it HAD to come out – a student had to ask what it meant. THERE was the problem. Religious doctrine came out into the lesson plan. These units of religion need to only cover the socio-cultural and historical aspects of the faiths and nothing more. Further, having students wear Islamic head covering is equivalent to having a Christian student wear a Jewish Yamika and then the student coming home to reveal to his parents what is being taught in the lesson. Rightfully so, the parents have every reason to be upset. They are paying taxes – and if I had kids who were under her direction, I wouldn't want her fired – I'd want the entire faculty, particularly the History Department Head – to review this. I'd also want the principal start monitoring the teacher with more scrutiny. The principal and faculty need to stringently review the Islam unit – and, also cover the SOL requirements and they'd realize that having students wear Islamic clothing and covering the Shahada in the lesson needs to be removed.

    I'm sure this teacher is doing a very good job. She merely crossed the line and should identify where she failed in the Islamic unit.

  7. Kimberly Herndon you are absolutely correct. It's up to the parents – the taxpayers – to decide the outcome of this. The faculty and principal, including the teacher – failed with the Islamic unit. You don't teach religious dogma, only the historical and cultural portions – as required by the SOL's. If you have a child in this school, this is what you need to address. If in fact the teacher IS a loose cannon – bring that up too. She needs to abide by the rule of law. Her covering even the Shahada or a portion of it is like another teaching telling the kids that the Lord is our Savior – and we all know THAT is not even allowed in the school system.

  8. Kimberly Herndon you are absolutely correct. It's up to the parents – the taxpayers – to decide the outcome of this. The faculty and principal, including the teacher – failed with the Islamic unit. You don't teach religious dogma, only the historical and cultural portions – as required by the SOL's. If you have a child in this school, this is what you need to address. If in fact the teacher IS a loose cannon – bring that up too. She needs to abide by the rule of law. Her covering even the Shahada or a portion of it is like another teaching telling the kids that the Lord is our Savior – and we all know THAT is not even allowed in the school system.

  9. Lana Whited – She crossed the line by covering the Shahada in the Islamic unit. Sociocultural and historical portions of the religious units should only be covered. Her going over the Shahada is equivalent to telling the students that the Lord is our Savior. While it is ok to teach the students about other cultures, religious doctrine isn't allowed and you should know this being an educator.

  10. Lana Whited – She crossed the line by covering the Shahada in the Islamic unit. Sociocultural and historical portions of the religious units should only be covered. Her going over the Shahada is equivalent to telling the students that the Lord is our Savior. While it is ok to teach the students about other cultures, religious doctrine isn't allowed and you should know this being an educator.

  11. Anthony Bryant – she covered the Shahada and had students wear religious garb. That's crossing the lines of separation of church and state. Religious doctrine isn't allowed at all. Only the historical and social aspects of the faiths are covered per the SOL.

  12. I am not going to get into a name calling match with you Andy. I am more mature than that. I also graduated from RHS and wish that I could stomach to send my child to a public school. In my opinion the teacher went about the assignment the wrong way. She should have sent home a letter explaining the assignment and how it was going to add value to the teaching for parents to give permission for their child to take part. Would a Muslim child have been asked to stand in front of the class and be photographed wearing a cross? It's about protecting the rights of all, not just a few.

  13. Below are listed the major concerns (along with any applicable consensus/solution) addressed in this comment section. If I’ve missed anything, feel free to point it out.

    Community Concern:
    Foreign religion is being taught to our youth

    Consensus:
    (1) Students should be given opportunity to opt-out
    (2) Teacher should remain neutral–no endorsements or attacking
    (3) Focus on how the religion impacts the culture

    Solution:
    (1) (note: least popular in comments, likely impossible) culture should be taught without religious references
    (2) teacher should accommodate student sensitivities (e.g.–allowing opt-outs and by showing no religious preference)

    Community Concern:
    Fairness–too much focus on Islam

    Consensus:
    None met–comments vary

    Solution:
    Comments have proposed 3 solutions:
    (1) No need to focus on Christianity since RHS is in Bible Belt
    (2) No need to focus on Islam because we don’t like it
    (3) Religions of the world should be given an equal spotlight (same texts available, equally-weighed assignments, etc)

    Community Concern:
    Having students WRITE a religious creed

    Concensus:
    Students should not have been asked to write a religious creed

    Solution:
    Range from having the teacher fired to not allowing that specific assignment in the future.

  14. Elizabeth, currently it looks like she is not practicing religious tolerance towards Christianity. Also, if she needed some reasonable ENGLISH examples of calligraphy then there are bibles written using calligraphy and other old books as well. It is not reasonable to have them attempt to reproduce a foreign language in calligraphy. That would be akin to having them rewrite a chinese proverb in mandarin.

  15. I wouldn't call for her being fired right now. Maybe she made a mistake, but if she presses her beliefs that religious doctrine like the Shahada be taught, she should then be fired. Her history department and principal had a leadership failure by not preventing her from teaching the shahada.

  16. Oh, it had to come up. A student asked what it means. The teacher said it, and that isn't even part of the Islam unit. Her fellow faculty in the history department will agree.

  17. Writing it down was an abomination to the religion of Christianity. She was irrisponsible with her decision to use that doctrine because of the mental implications of the chance that they would find that out. She may very well be liable for the mental anguish that she caused those children and their parents. We will let our lawyer advise us on that issue.

  18. John, Hallelujah and praise His name, He is the Lord and Savior! He was crucified to carry our sins and give us a life, He is worthy to worship. He is God and it is better to teach and let others to know about Him to save their souls from the eternal he'll. Be careful Americans, there is worst to come with this type of teaching, this is just the beginning! I pray that God touch Americans thoughts and eyes and realize the danger of teaching this religion. We left our countries because of them, now they are spreading and concouring as it is planned in their agenda. God bless America and ope up the eyes of their heart to know you and love you just the way you loved us all.

  19. The levels are many on which this woman should be fired and never allowed to warp the minds of children again. She calls them racists when they dont agree with her agenda. She doesnt listen when they say they do not want to take part and keeps asking over and over making them feel obligated. Her insensitivity to the current time of hostility in the world is astonishing. She has been said by students to bash the United States of America and say if they ever lived in another country they would not want to come back here. If that is the way she feels I know plenty of people that would give to an account funding her a one way ticket out of here. I am fed up with hearing people spew their disrespect for this land that I love. Their hearts are unamerican and their spirit is tainted with the evil of Satan. This woman sits in pew on Sunday professing her Christianity and then comes to school on Monday speaking evil of her own country, stealing the time alloted by the law to teach of Christ and giving it to Mohammed. She is brazen in her disrespect of the law and the boundaries not only that the law states but the moral boundaries of a decesnt human being. She is an imposture, a wolf in sheeps clothing. Forgiveness will come but WISDOM is the front runner.

  20. Separation of church and state proves that this right here is not constitutional therefore she should be removed. You're not allowed to pray or have a Bible in school but a teacher can teach you to write Arabic? To use such a statement is absolutely inappropriate!! Sorry, I'm not sorry this is something that I would completely take to the top level it should not be in PUBLIC schools!!
    Last time I checked Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. (Not their religion or ancestry) Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth's surface and the human societies spread across it. Nothing about religion, ancestry, language or writing systems.

  21. Anthony Bryant What the fu*k is wrong with you, this is complete liberal BS they ban the bible and any form of open religious worship in our schools but yeah it's ok for them to teach them a muslim prayer. If Liberals and atheist want religion out of schools then it should apply to all religion.

  22. And I took the SOLs and I know that religion is apart of them. Sorry but if your kids don't learn it they won't pass. Doesn't matter how you feel about it. It's a statewide test.

  23. Chill out everybody. You kid is not going to become a Muslim because of this. I would have been equally offended had it been a Bible passed around, biblical quotes copied and kids dressed like the 3 wise men or a Jewish equivalent. You need to teach diversity in our schools.

  24. Chill out everybody. You kid is not going to become a Muslim because of this. I would have been equally offended had it been a Bible passed around, biblical quotes copied and kids dressed like the 3 wise men or a Jewish equivalent. You need to teach diversity in our schools.

  25. in case anyone actually wants the truth this assignment was a sticker assignment. this means if you collect a certain amount of stickers you can drop a lower grade. no students were demanded to do it my child chose not to do it because they tried the calligraphy and said ah forget this. they were not punished and didnt receive any reprecussions from it just saying

  26. Do any of you democrats have a flippin' brain in your head? Of all the things she wanted them to calligraphize, she chose “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Think about it. How many different combinations of words are there in Arabic? Of all the combinations, she chose this nonsense.

    She is trying to convert these students, or at the very least, get them to "throw off" their Christian religion. Disgusting. By Allah's will, she will be fired.

  27. Kimberly Herndon ….Your closed minded rambling made my teeth itch. I might have to take about an hour or two to get my mind back to a normal level of thinking to even BEGIN to reply to you. But, I won't….

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You're part of the problem! She shouldn't be fired for TEACHING students another culture, she's not warping their minds, for crying out loud. Have you had her as a teacher? Do you know FOR SURE what she does in her classroom? I do.

    I'm glad you love the United States of America. Maybe you could open a History book and take a look at who the people were that came here in the first place! You'll see they weren't all Christians devoted, American born. I just can't anymore with people as closed minded and xenophobic as you. This country is supposed to a melting pot.

    She's not any of those things you're talking about. You're a closed minded, bigot and I'm not going to waste my time on you anymore.

  28. Anthony Bryant
    When a teacher teaches the phrase "Their is no God but Allah, Muhhamed is the only path. She is going against Christian doctrine that teaches Jesus Christ is the thruth thw way and the Light. If tou were a Christian and your kids were in that class you would be OUTRAGED!!! Get this teacher OUT!!!!!

  29. Really what part of "THEIR IS NO GOD BUT ALLAH, MUHAMMED IS THE ONLY WAY" did you not get. The book KORAN was made 600 yrs after the Bible wht didnt she teach that instead. WAKE UP AIRHEAD…READ REAL HISTORY!!

  30. Corte Allen Here is a Bombshell for you Corte Allen. Freedom of Religion is AGAINST ISLAM teachings. The only reason why our amazing country has different cultures is because its founders were Christians. IRANS SLOGAN "DEATH TO AMERICA".

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