San Diego Unified’s anti-Islamophobia effort sparks protest

SAN DIEGO -- Eleven opponents of a new San Diego Unified School District program to combat Islamophobia on campuses appeared before the Board of Education Tuesday evening to protest during the public comment period.

Citizens for Quality Education-San Diego organized the effort because they opposed the implementation of "anti-American Sharia Law policies" at local schools.

The group's founder, Mary Baker, told the board that she had five main complaints about the policy, including "the district establishing formal partnerships with CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which is partially funded by the terror group Hamas."

"Why single out Muslim culture?" Baker asked. "If the district is making accommodations, then shouldn't they provide accommodations for all religions?"

The program is the result of direction by the board last July to address discrimination against Muslim students and their families, who trustees said are more likely to be bullied than other students.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, there were seven reported incidents of harassment based on religion in San Diego Unified schools, according to a district presentation. By comparison, there were 36 based on race and 21 on sex during the same period.

The program includes making teachers and staff aware of when Muslim holidays occur, setting up professional staff development training on awareness of and advocating for Muslim culture, providing resources to students during Ramadan, and giving teachers history and social science materials, among other things.

Several of the speakers asked the board to reverse the policy because it was in compliance with Sharia law.

"You have given your alliance to people that are against our own constitution. It is wrong," Alice Kaiser said. "Sharia law is despicable and not acceptable in this country."

CQE-SD was founded in 2012 as a non-partisan group of civic-minded individuals who care about how American children are being educated.

Board members were prohibited from responding to the speakers because the item was not on the agenda.