A former Enloe High School teacher who made national headlines after being reprimanded for having an anti-Islamic activist speak to his students is lobbying today to get his job back.
Robert Escamilla is meeting today with Wake Superintendent Del Burns and a panel of school board members behind closed doors to appeal the decision that ended in a transfer from Enloe, a reduction in his pay, and a 12-page reprimand letter being inserted in his personnel file.
Escamilla would like to be reassigned to Enloe, and is trying to get some pay reinstated that he lost when he was moved to another school. But he said is primarily trying to remove stains on his professional record he believes would preclude his finding other teaching jobs.
The panel, which includes board members Beverley Clark, Patti Head and Susan Parry, will make a decision on his appeal within 10 business days.
Escamilla's supporters also plan to hold a rally at 5 p.m. today outside the school district's offices on 3600 Wake Forest Road.
A dozen current and former Enloe students came to today's hearing. Several were allowed to speak to the panel.
"He's a great teacher," said Earl Quiller, 18, an Enloe senior who spoke to the board today. "I don't know why they want to get rid of him."
Following complaints about the guest speaker, the Wake County school system put Escamilla on a 90-day paid suspension. School officials later transferred the social studies teacher to Mary Phillips High School, an alternative school, and inserted a scathing reprimand letter and negative performance review in his file.
School officials didn't comment on today's proceedings, calling them a personnel matter.
Back in February, Escamilla invited Kamil Solomon, an Egyptian-born Christian who lives in Raleigh, to speak to 300 or so Enloe students about his persecution at the hands of the Egyptian government.
Solomon denounced Islam as a religion of violence. He also distributed pamphlets. One called the Prophet Muhammad a "criminal," "demon possessed" and "inspired by Satan." Another was titled "Do Not Marry A Muslim Man."
Quiller, one of the students who heard Solomon, said there was nothing offensive in the talk. He said Solomon urged the students to love Muslims.
But some of his students and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Muslim advocacy group, complained about Solomon's remarks. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union also complained about the speaker.
The controversy was reported by media outlets across the world, with Christian groups rallying behind Escamilla and Muslim groups saying it was proof of bias against their religion.
School officials concluded their investigation by saying Solomon's primary message was to convey his anti-Muslim and pro-Christian views.
Burns, the superintendent, apologized to Muslims for Solomon's visit. And he issued new guidelines that require guest speakers to sign forms saying they will not denigrate any culture, race, gender, national origin or religion. (MORE)