California school district bans depiction of all religious figures after complaint on Muhammad drawing assignment
A school district in California has decided to ban the drawing of all religious figures after one parent complained about an assignment that asked students to depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Seventh Grade students at High Desert School under the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District were given worksheets in history class on "Vocabulary Pictures: The Rise of Islam," by a teacher and asked to draw photos of Quran, Mecca and Muhammad, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
After consulting with an expert on Islam, Superintendent Brent Woodard announced Wednesday that he has ordered all school staff to stop giving assignments on the depiction of any religious leader.
"I have directed all staff to permanently suspend the practice of drawing or depiction of any religious leader. I am certain this teacher did not intend to offend anyone and in fact was simply teaching respect and tolerance for all cultures," he said.
The depiction of Muhammad is prohibited under Islam.
Parent Melinda Van Stone of Palmdale became upset when her 12-year-old son brought home the assignment.
"It's not appropriate to have our children go to school and learn how to insult a religious group," she said. She refused to divulge their religion. She's the only one who complained about the assignment.
The worksheet came from state-approved curriculum, the principal and district officials told Van Stone. But High Desert School Principal Lynn David said it's a supplemental material.
Muzammil Siddiqui, chairman of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, said, "Muslims do not draw the image of the Prophet Muhammad out of respect for him."
Last May, the terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack at a Muhammad cartoon contest in Texas. Two gunmen shot a security officer. They were later killed in a shootout with police.
Woodard explained that it's a common practice for teachers to bring in educational materials that support state-approved content but have not been approved by the school board, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.
"I think it's something that should be caught in advance," said School District President Ed Porter.