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Dearborn Parent on Terry Jones Visit: ‘Is It Safe to Send My Kid to School?’

The Dearborn Public Schools district said they're planning for "just another day of school" when the anti-Islam Florida pastor protests in front of Edsel Ford High School on Oct. 10.

For Edsel Ford High School, Wednesday, Oct. 10 is “just a regular day of school,” said Dearborn Public Schools spokesman David Mustonen. But for some parents, an anti-Muslim protestor’s planned demonstration in front of the Dearborn school that afternoon is cause for concern.

Florida Pastor Terry Jones is well known in Dearborn, having visited the city three times since April 2011 to protest what he said is the spread of Islamic law in the city. Jones’s visits have resulted in arrests, public disturbances, expenditure of city, county and state police resources, and extensive media coverage.

On Oct. 10, he’ll return once more “to protest the bullying of non-Muslim students,” according to a press release from Stand Up America Now on behalf of Jones.

Though Jones has not confirmed the exact reason for his visit, it is believed that it has to do with an altercation that took place at Edsel Ford in May between two groups of students.

According to the Arab American News, the fight was described by some as a “racial war” between African American and Arab American teens. It resulted in the suspension of seven students.

Mustonen said the district has coordinated efforts with Dearborn police and city officials to ensure that while Jones exercises his right to free speech, students can get on with their day.

“We’ve been working with the city, talking with them so that all our efforts are coordinated,” he explained. “We want to make sure that traffic moves smoothly and there are no interruptions in the school day—that’s what we’re planning on.”

He added that discussions will be held with students and parents, “just so that they’re aware.”

Dearborn resident Pat Turnbull, whose son attends Edsel Ford, said she found out about the event when the district notified her of a meeting for parents to be held Monday.

“I just find it alarming because I don’t really see the point (of his visit),” she said. “It concerns me that he’s going to be at a school.

“As a parent, I’m thinking, ‘Is it safe to send my kid to school that day?’”

Mustonen said several parents have called the district to voice concerns over Jones’s visit, but that the district feels the issue can be handled without more drastic measures—such as closing school for the day.

“Any over-attention is what Mr. Jones seeks,” Mustonen said. “I think he seeks for a disruption of normal behavior in order to credit that to his presence … but I don’t see that occurring for us in the district.”

According to the City of Dearborn, Jones did not file a special event request. As such, he cannot host his demonstration on school grounds. However, state law mandates that he can protest on public sidewalks.

Still, Turnbull said she and her husband are discussing pulling their son out of school.

“I absolutely am not sure I’m going to send him that day,” she said. “There are a lot of crazy people in the world, and there are people out there who want to do (Jones) harm. The potential for a safety hazard—I don’t know that it’s worth the risk.”

She added that she’s equally concerned about those who might show up at the demonstration, as well as Edsel students who may get worked up over the message Jones preaches at their school.

“Any time you say something against what a teenager believes … they’re going to be inflamed,” she said.

Mustonen said the district has faith in the “caliber of Edsel Ford students” to prove that Jones will not cause a major disturbance.

Turnbull hopes they’re right.

“In the end,” she said, “I have to trust that the school and police department and the city … that the people who know how to deal with this have all talked to each other and have to come to what they think is the best action to take.”

Colette Richards October 06, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Jessica, with all the plans I've seen of how it's going to be set up, we'll have so much police presence and even behind the scenes security inside and out of the building, that the gun is just a piece of clothing. He won't get near any students, teachers or staff members of that school or any other school.
m October 08, 2012 at 03:28 AM
It is illegal for him to film minors without parental consent .So he better not video tape our students!!
Scott J October 09, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Safe or not, if my two nephews don't go to school that day, which the school already said would be an excused absence, the football coaches said they'd be Ineligible to play in this weeks games. Shame on those coaches.
EFHS STUDENT October 10, 2012 at 01:13 PM
just ignor him we the students of EFHS know the right thing to do nothing bad will happen everyone is gona be safe in our school let him protest its his right but its also our right to IGNOR
J October 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Shame on you for posting false information. The kids are not ineligible for their game this week. Get your facts straight!

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