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Augusta County Schools cave: ‘Different’ lesson to be used after parent protests

After SchoolAugusta County Schools are caving to a group of parents who took to conservative media outlets with claims that a lesson from a World Religions workbook assigned to World Geography students at Riverheads High School was an effort at “Islamic indoctrination.”

A statement posted to the school system’s website late Thursday announcing the closing of schools on Friday also addressed the classroom assignment, which had students practice Arabic calligraphy by copying a passage from the Kuran, the shahada, a statement of faith that translates to, “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

Students will continue to learn about world religions “as required by the state Board of Education and the Commonwealth’s Standards of Learning,” the statement read, but “a different, non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.”

“The Augusta County School Board and Dr. Bond appreciate parents bringing concerns directly to our attention, and a constructive and respectful dialogue between school and community is always welcome,” the statement read.

The about-face from the school system comes as local response to the generated controversy had turned decidedly in support of the embattled teacher, Cheryl LaPorte, with parents and former students speaking out against her critics on social media.

A read of the statement shows the school system caught in the middle of a firestorm that it just wants to blow over.

“As we have emphasized, no lesson was designed to promote a religious viewpoint or change any student’s religious belief,” the statement read.