FORT WORTH — The evening of Nov. 8 is being described as infamous by some students in Paul Derengowski's Great Religions of the World class at Tarrant County College's Southeast Campus.
That's when the second of the professor's two lectures on Islam ended in a headline-grabbing controversy. Two Muslim students questioned Derengowski's source material and objectivity. The students later aired their concerns to the college administration -- a move that resulted in Derengowski's Nov. 15 resignation and prompted other students to file grievances that question the college's handling of the situation.
Derengowski says the college took the politically correct route by focusing on his lesson rather than disciplining the students, who he said berated him and disrupted his class.
"My recommendation was expulsion," he said, explaining that the only way he would return to TCC if is the college apologizes, expels the students with failing grades and allows him to resume his lessons without stipulations that he be neutral.
The Muslim students believed that Derengowski, who on his website lists Islam as a cult, was disparaging their religion. Randa Bedair, one of the students involved, told the Star-Telegram that she was trying to stay out of the limelight and declined to comment. The male student could not be reached for comment.
The case is an example for some in the Muslim community of how religious history or philosophy classes need to be handled through a neutral and impartial lens. When a professor's objectivity is questioned, it detracts from the lesson, they said.
"In terms of religion, we need to be religious neutral in terms of giving edicts about what you think religion is," said Mustafaa Carroll, executive of CAIR Texas, an affiliate of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
The Derengowski case is pending an investigation, said Frank Griffis, TCC spokesman. He said TCC won't provide information while college officials are looking into it.
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