Extracurricular activities have been canceled and a western Virginia county closed down their schools after an out-pour of hateful messages have targeted Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl LaPorte. The reason for the outcry? LaPorte had her students practice their calligraphy by writing a statement in Arabic.
People from all around the country have flooded the school district with hateful messages after learning that in a geography lesson, LaPorte were asked to write a religious statement in Arabic calligraphy.
According to Augusta County Superintendent Eric Bond, this was included in the lesson in order “demonstrate the complex artistry of the written language used in the Middle East, and… give the students an idea of the artistic complexity of the calligraphy.”
The Arabic statement that Cheryl LaPorte had her students write translates to “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” A news release by the County Superintendent stated that when their students study a geographic region, part of their studies includes the religion and language of the local culture, and that that was all this was.
Parents aren’t viewing it as a simple lesson, however, with one parent, Kimberly Herndon, saying that they were teaching false doctine in the school and adding that “She gave up the Lord’s time. She gave it up and gave it to Mohammed.”
Herndon also made allegations that LaPorte was attempting to indoctrinate the students, saying “There was no trying about it. The sheet that she gave out was pure indoctrinate in its origin.”
Due to the deluge of hateful messages, Riverheads High School was on lock down for Wednesday and Thursday’s school hours, meaning that once all the students had entered the school, the doors were locked. Security was also increased at other schools within Augusta County.
According to the Augusta Public Schools website, “there has been no specific threat of harm to students, schools and school offices” and “no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief.” It is unknown if LaPorte has been disciplined for her actions.
The website went on to state that actions will be taken to ensure the incident does not occur again, saying “Although students will continue to learn about world religions as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning, a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”
What do you think of this incident where Virginia county closed down their schools? Is the outrage justified?