Revisited: Religion in the local public schools

In a strange return to one of the very first posts here at Geek Buffet (now more than a whole year ago!), I heard a startling local news blurb on my way home this afternoon. The saga of Mr. Escamilla and Enloe High School is apparently still dragging on. After his suspension from teaching, Mr. Escamilla did not have his contract renewed at Enloe, and was instead transferred to an alternative school starting in May 2007.

He also got a very poor 12-page review put into his file evaluating his teaching that year. According to the website he has set up to chronicle his interpretation of events, it was the first negative review he had ever gotten in all his years of teaching. He appealed these decisions multiple times, and seems to have raised such a furor that the school board felt the need to defend their decisions, so they released supporting evidence from his personnel record in October. In November, he sued. Yesterday, the case was finally settled.

The local newspaper report is rather vague on the details, though:

A tentative agreement was reached Monday between the Wake County school system and a former Enloe High School teacher who sued after he was punished for inviting an anti-Islamic speaker to talk with his students.

Social studies teacher Robert Escamilla and his attorney, Billy Strickland, said they couldn’t disclose the terms of the deal until July 1. They said the agreement was contingent upon the school district performing some actions that they couldn’t disclose yet.

“It could be a productive development if they do what they say,” he said. It would not, however, return him to Enloe, he said.

[…]

Escamilla was suspended in February 2007 after he invited an Egyptian-born Christian to speak at Enloe. Some parents, the ACLU and the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained that the speaker had denounced Islam and warned female students not to marry Muslim men.

Escamilla was later reprimanded and transferred to Phillips High, an alternative school. The school board also released negative parts of his personnel file to justify its decision not to grant Escamilla’s request to be reassigned back to Enloe.

School officials accused Escamilla of being a lax teacher. But Escamilla pointed out that before last year, he had received only positive evaluations during his 18 years at Enloe.

Escamilla sued in November alleging that his due process rights had been violated.

Personally, I’m with the school officials on this one. As I said of my experiences in his class in my previous post:

I was never particularly impressed with his classes, in any case, because all we ever did was read the textbook and then teach the chapters to each other in assigned turn. He very rarely actually seemed to teach us anything. I think I saw him being more teacherly in driver’s ed than in my history class.

I find it very bizarre if it’s true that every teaching evaluation he ever got before was completely positive. If so, they must not have been based on input from students. Of course, maybe it’s because his students tended to do well on multiple choice state mandated exams. We didn’t learn much else.

If you’re interested in more news stories about this saga, the local TV station has this story, with a fantastically weird picture of him and several more links in the sidebar. I cannot imagine who the students rallying to bring him back would have been, unless they were ones particularly taken with his apparently increasing strangeness in the classroom. We Enloe students do delight in weirdness, though Mr. Escamilla’s kind was never to my taste.

-posted by Dana

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One Response to Revisited: Religion in the local public schools

  1. […] the continuing saga of my very weird high school history teacher vs. my high school […]

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