Wednesday, January 21, 2009

'Welcome Fordson Class of 2012! Have You Embraced Islam?'

The report on how to improve Dearborn’s schools released last week by the Michigan Leadership Institute (MLI) focused its most serious criticisms on Fordson High School, specifically, its bad-tempered Principal, Imad Fadlallah.

To deflect attention from the troubled institution known locally as “Hezbollah High” and its spiritual leader, the Detroit News and the Dearborn Press & Guide both portrayed the report in a false light as nothing but a demand to banish Arabic from Dearborn schools.

As I wrote yesterday, none of the local coverage on the MLI report even mentions Fadlallah. But we did get to read comments from Imad Hamad explaining that the First Amendment protects the inalienable right of an immigrant from hearing anything at his local public school but his native language.

Unfortunately, anyone reading the MLI report for himself has to contend with its back-asswards style combining descriptions of serious problems with chipper language meant to say, “everybody’s doing their best!” and “we’re all winners here!”

For example, see how long it takes this writer to say “Imad Fadlallah has created a hellish workplace for his staff”:
The dynamics of Fordson are complicated at best. A significant number of the teaching staff, parents and students indicate a belief that the current Principal has the best interest of students at heart. Without question, he has many supporters who believe in and support the direction in which he has been taking the school. However, many of those staff who support the current Principal also point to areas where he needs to improve if he is to gain the support of the entire staff.

[BUT] For many staff, a culture of fear and uncertainty exists, and for them, we believe the work environment at Fordson has been in the recent past, and remains now, very hostile. . . .We believe that some staff has [sic] interpreted the Principal’s passion as anger—others do see this as a problem area or even a concern. [Emphasis added].

How's that for burying the lead? Rather than quote more of this unhelpful prose, I’ve tried to excavate the main problems the MLI report identifies:

--Fadlallah has created a culture of “fear and uncertainty,” and a “hostile” and “intimidating” work environment, for staff, students, and parents;

--There is distrust between various groups and individual staff members, divided along lines of their relationship with Fadlallah, so serious that “meaningful progress” will be “difficult at best”;

--Many Fordson support staff and administrators believe they’ve been treated by Fadlallah and his people “unfairly and/or unprofessionally”;

--If Fadlallah remains on as Principal, there are sure to be “additional complaints from staff” and, necessarily, “corresponding investigations of fact to be conducted”; [note use of plural];

--Fadlallah needs to be made to understand that his “former methods of ‘motivating’ staff” are unacceptable;

--Fadlallah needs a set of expectations imposed on him by the Superintendent—in writing—that he must follow; he also needs a coach—one not accountable to him;

--While everyone has seen improvements in Fadlallah’s behavior this year, credit for that goes solely to the presence of MSI monitors— everyone surveyed believes as soon as the monitors are gone, “the Principal will revert to prior behavioral approaches”;

--Fadlallah “needs to be seen in the hallways and classrooms more often” [except when he’s on Hezbollah missions in Southern Lebanon], and “[h]is appearance must be viewed as being supportive as opposed to being a threat” [exactly, just like when he’s on Hezbollah missions in Southern Lebanon].

--The “administration” (Fadlallah and his pets) also are seen by staff and students as employing blatant favoritism (“There is no room for special favors or exceptions!”);

--Fordson students routinely roam the halls during classtime, and security is so lax there’s no control over who comes into the building or leaves. This may be due, the report placidly suggests, to a “buddy” system between some students and security staff, a problem that "should be considered” because it “diminishes the possibility that the security staff can effectively assist with the control of the student population.” (Oh?).

Fadlallah was already in trouble last year for allegedly slapping a student, then applying "community" pressure to cover it up. Then there was the matter of his unlawful firing of wrestling coach Trey Hancock because of his Christianity ("Fordson Principal Pile Drives First Amendment"). Shortly after the Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006 Fadlallah abandoned his post to go help out his cousin in south Lebanon inventory Hezbollah's remaining rocket supply. In July 2008 the anti-religious outfit Americans United of Michigan documented how:
Numerous church and state allegations against Fordson’s principal, Imad Fadlallah, came pouring into AU-Michigan’s office in May and June. The allegations: a sign placed in the school library reading “Have You Embraced Islam?”; the school’s policy of serving exclusively halal food in the cafeteria; allegations of unreasonable religious accommodations granted to Muslim students and staff; discrimination against non-Muslim staff and students; discrimination against non-Shia Muslims; and the questionable termination of Fordson’s long-time wrestling coach.
[NOTE: The "Have You Embraced Islam?" poster was reportedly displayed prominently in the media center in Dearborn High as well.]

What are the chances that Fadlallah, no matter how bad a principal he is and how many civil rights and other laws he violates, remains on the job because the Dearborn School Board is terrified of crossing the Muslim community? And that Fadlallah sees his mission as ridding Fordson High School from the filthy influence of the infidels? (The report notes the "many of the traditions of the past have been discontinued (i.e. pep assemblies, honors recognitions programs, etc.)" ). And that the Muslim community already considers Fordson High an inalienable part of the Ummah?

As a case in point, consider the Victim Triumphant tone that the Arab American News used last summer reporting how Fadlallah was supposedly "found innocent" at a school board meeting of the charge that he'd slapped that student:
But there is a larger issue involved here and that is no less than the future of Fordson. The student who was the focus of the allegation never stated that he was slapped but did say that he was pressured by staff members to make the claim. And from the passionate testimonies of parents and students who showed up at the meeting in the hundreds to support Fadlallah, it became clear that an evangelistic effort is underway at Fordson, pitting a few of the staff and an outside group against the 90% Arab and Muslim student population.
("The fight for freedom at Fordson").

What is it exacty Fordson's 90% Muslim population needs to be "freed" from? And isn't someone attacking Islam all it takes to justify jihad?


Anonymous said...

Great job reporting this. I work for the DPS and hear and see these things. I am so relieved to know someone else has this inside view and is reporting it.

Anonymous said...

According to Amy Blackburn, Fadlallah is simply misunderstood.

Read her quote from the Arab-Am. News online.

"Blackburn said a mentor and a new assistant principal are to be assigned for the school."

"I think that his passion has been misinterpreted," she said about Fadlallah. "That school is unlike any other that we have in Deaborn. There are 2,500 students in that school... in a building designed to hold 2,100. By having another assistant principal — full-time — and by having a mentor, it will allow him to refocus his attention, and it'll give him someone to brainstorm with... I think that everyone should have a mentor, personally."

How much $$$ is being spent on Fadlallah's mentor? What is a mentor and how many other highly paid professionals require one to do their job?


T.R. Clancy said...


I don't really have the inside view I wish I did! If you hear and see things from the inside, please feel free to email me directly.

hal said...

Describing Americans United for the Separation of Church and State as an anti-religion organization is completely incorrect. We are well known for our 60 year commitment to preserving our constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. Our philosophy is simple: whenever government (or its agents) meddles with religion, religion loses. And whenever religion meddles with government, our civil rights are negatively impacted. Therefore, if government and religion leave each other alone, both can prosper. Please check your facts. It'll enhance your credibility.

T.R. Clancy said...

Hi Hal

Thanks for checking in. I repaired the broken link to your site.

My description of you as an "anti-religion organization" may have been a bit harsh. I'm willing to be corrected where I'm wrong. But I drew my conclusion from your About Us language:

"AU-Michigan was formed in 2004 to address the rise of the Religious Right in Michigan politics."

You see I'm a part of the religious right in Michigan politics, so I know you're against someone's religion, because you're against mine. I don't take it personally, but that's why I see your group as anti-religion.

But this isn't the place to discuss that, as I believe that on the topic of Fordson we're of the same point of view. You're more than welcome to email me to discuss your organization further, and I hope you do.

Thanks again for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Yea, they assigned him a mentor all right, a coach from the Fordson staff! That should really bring alot of change! I encourage all Dearborn residents to attend the "study session" school board meetings on the 3rd Monday of each month. Whiston is a politician through and through. He wants to please all the people all the time. Make his day! Show up and give him some real work to do, like actually changing something instead of claiming to do something, while actually doing the opposite,

Anonymous said...

Fordson is just the beginning. Look a little closer at Dearborn Schools, you'll find a direct line from Fadlallah to many administrators esp in one of the Middle Schools. They run their buildings with the same intimidation & bullying tactics. They learned under Imad b/c they worked for him & saw how to harrass their staff. It goes much deeper than just Fordson.