Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Debate about Islamic group's visits to Hillsborough schools flares up again

TAMPA — If members of the Hillsborough County School Board thought they had put controversy over a Muslim speaker behind them, they were wrong.

More than a dozen who oppose school appearances from the Council on American-Islamic Relations attended Tuesday's board meeting, some asking the board to call for a workshop and others displaying signs on the sidewalk outside that said, "Welcome to Tampastan."

The group included Kristina Gionet of the Pinellas Patriots, who said, "I guarantee that if CAIR comes across the bay, we will stop them at the Howard Frankland Bridge."

The issue arose late last year when conservative activist David Caton called attention to a visit to Steinbrenner High by Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa-based Islamic group.

At the Jan. 24 board meeting, chairwoman Candy Olson scolded an angry crowd for criticizing a teacher trying to broaden horizons.

On Tuesday, when she again rose to the defense of teachers, she was met with a loud chorus of boos.

Board member Stacy White, acknowledging many of the anti-CAIR speakers live in his east Hillsborough district, made a motion to schedule a workshop that would include presentations from CAIR and the Education Coalition, a group of conservative organizations that has mobilized over the issue.

He met resistance from member Doretha Edgecomb, who didn't want CAIR singled out. "It's Islam today," she said. "Tomorrow it may be the NAACP, or somebody else."

Olson, similarly, said she worried that teachers would be afraid to teach about the Holocaust, the Vietnam conflict or other topics that might appear controversial. "I've had some teachers say, 'I don't want to be the next target,' '' she said.

While agreeing to broaden the topic of the workshop, White insisted that the public be allowed to speak at it. White's motion failed 5-2, with Susan Valdes siding with him.

In other action, the board agreed unanimously to take a closer look at how public money is allocated among the district's schools.

Valdes, who has raised questions about the distribution of federal Title 1 antipoverty money, said she'd like to see something similar to a spreadsheet that tracks funding in Seattle public schools.

The board directed staff to report on the feasibility of such a system by the end of March.

.fast facts

Principals named

• David Sheppard, former assistant principal of Wharton High, replaces Chris Farkas as principal of Freedom High. Farkas was promoted to principal coach.

• Barbara Fillhart, principal of Sligh Middle School, replaces the retiring Nancy Trathowen at Mann Middle.

Debate about Islamic group's visits to Hillsborough schools flares up again 02/14/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.