Hillsborough School Board again hears complaints about Muslim visit to classroom

The board hears pleas to end visits to schools by a Muslim leader.
Published March 28 2012
Updated March 28 2012

TAMPA — For a fourth time this year, the Hillsborough County School Board heard complaints Tuesday about last fall's visit by a Muslim leader to Steinbrenner High School.

Appearing three days before a board workshop to discuss classroom visitors, 21 speakers called for a policy banning the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

As in past meetings, some alleged the group has ties to terrorist groups — which CAIR denies — while others attacked Islam itself.

Betsy Hicka, a grandmother, said she has no religious bias, but "I would not expect reasonable administrators to allow felons, pedophiles, drug dealers and terrorists of any kind to come talk to our students."

Board members did not respond.

Hassan Shibly, the CAIR leader who met with Steinbrenner's world history students, was not at the meeting. And he said he will not be at Friday's 2 p.m. workshop, as he will be leading weekly prayers at a mosque.

"I don't think the School Board should allow their meetings to be used as a platform for anti-Muslim bigotry," Shibly said later.

The speakers included conservative activists David Caton and Terry Kemple, now a candidate for School Board who last week said CAIR is as objectionable as a group supporting pedophilia.

Kemple offered to draft a policy for the board. "I hope that out of the workshop comes something meaningful to address this issue," he said. "Because we will be back, if not."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]