The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Teacher resigns after students, bosses complain

By Bethany Peterson/editor-in-chief

A SE Campus adjunct instructor resigned Nov. 15 after two students objected to how Islam was portrayed in his class and an administrator questioned the class syllabus and his teaching style.

Paul Derengowski taught a world religions class that covers “history, beliefs, ethics and practices of the major world religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism,” according to the district syllabus.

Two students in the class, who told the class they were Muslims, questioned part of his lecture regarding the history of the prophet Muhammad, Derengowski said.

When he brought other sources including the Qur’an to the next class, the two students became angry and disruptive, he said.

After class, he went to the campus police and filed a report because he felt threatened, he said.

One of the students then sent an email to other members of the class, which was later forwarded to Derengowski. In the email, the student said Derengowski was teaching in a hateful and biased way and that the two students felt they did the right thing standing up to him, Derengowski said. The email also included links to some of Derengowski’s writings that he had posted online.

Derengowski said he was asked to meet with Barbara Coan, SE Campus vice president of academic affairs, on Nov. 15. Coan addressed both Derengowski’s teaching methods and his personal website, and Derengowski felt he was being required to change parts of his syllabus that had portions of his website as links but were not

required reading, he said.

Derengowski chose to resign and posted a 13-page resignation letter on his website, capro.info, including telling Coan her “failing to act appropriately in quashing this terroristic act of jihad by these two Muslim students may cost someone his/her life someday.”

His website also has a category of cults listing Islam along with other faiths such as Mormonism, Scientology, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Atheism.

“I’ve never called anyone a cult in class,” he said.

One of the students told Fox 4 News, who broke the story Nov. 22, that Derengowski had taken his teaching to an extremist level. The other student told Fox 4 she wanted to learn but didn’t want to hear hateful opinions.

Derengowski said he brings each religion’s founding texts and material written by people of those faiths to class.

“We look at both sides of what they believe, what they actually say,” Derengowski said. “And then, we think through where it is going. Nothing is off the table.”

The class period includes an “open discussion about the good, the bad and the ugly,” he said.

He said he tries to teach as objectively as possible and let his students make an educated decision.

“I don’t want clones of me,” Derengowski said.

Attempts to reach the two students were unsuccessful.

Coan referred all questions to the TCC public relations office. Frank Griffis, director of public relations and marketing, said the college is looking into the situation.

Derengowski said he is not seeking his job back.

“The only way I’d come back is if they apologized because they dropped the ball,” he said.

On his website, he also called for the two students to be suspended with failing grades and for the college to act.

“Have some guts and do what is right for a change instead of kowtowing to your mythological neutrality god and letting evil reign,” he wrote.

 

 
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