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Families sue California school district over study of Islam

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

BYRON, Calif. (AP) -- A debate in California about teaching Islam to public school children has led to a lawsuit, in which parents claim the classes violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

School administrators have defended the program.

Two families with students at the Excelsior School filed the suit against the Byron Union School District on June 24 in federal court in San Francisco.

They argued that requiring students to wear traditional Muslim clothing and memorize Islamic prayers as part of the class was unacceptable.

''Is this education or indoctrination?'' asked attorney Richard Thompson of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Center for Law and Justice, which is spearheading the suit.

''The textbook and simulation workbook used in Byron and many schools in California crossed way over the constitutional line in regard to religion.''

Byron Superintendent Peggy Green said the district is adhering to state guidelines and did not plan to stop using the textbook, ''Across the Centuries,'' published by Houghton-Mifflin. She said it's the only state-approved history book for seventh graders.

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California education department: http://www.cde.ca.gov/standards/history/grade7.html



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