Before I share my story, I first want to thank Helen and Rocky for granting me the privilege of doing so on their blog. We’ve been friends at a distance for some time, and Helen, knowing of my plight, was thoughtful, compassionate, and concerned enough to allow me to inform her readers of an ongoing tragedy that eventually is going to impact everyone if the precedent is left to stand.
Although my story is not about Mormonism, it is about its cousin Islam, and stems back to a night in November of 2011. In a nutshell (the full version is provided here), I was the professor of Great World Religions at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas. TCC is a two-year school with five campuses and over 50,000 students. I had been teaching the class at the Southeast Campus for three and one-half years, without incident, and with high recommendation prior to that evening.
Then, at the start of the second lecture on Islam, two Muslim students (one male and one female), one of which (the male) had been troublesome periodically since the start of the semester, decided, if not planned, to take exception to what was being taught. The exception, though, was not done in a respectful or courteous manner, but was done in what amounted to a frontal, personal attack. And when they were not attacking me, they were engaged in rude exchanges with other students in the class.
Skipping ahead to the weekend following the melee, and after reporting their disruptive behavior to my department chair, the female Muslim decided to escalate the matter by first visiting a Mormon web blog and airing her grievance there, “anonymous”ly, and then by constructing and circulating a defamatory email to everyone in the class except myself. In fact, she would be the sole instigator, speaking for the male Muslim, for the remainder of this saga.
On Monday, November 15, 2011, I was immediately called into the office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Barbara Coan (who has since been demoted and moved to another campus), to answer for my indiscretions.
Please note that by the time I arrived in her office, along with Student Dean Josué Munoz and Department Chair Sharon Wettengel, I had already been tried and convicted without anyone ever asking me a question. The indiscretions and misbehavior of the two Muslim students were only an afterthought, which were later justified because I “created a hostile learning environment.”
After being stripped of everything during that meeting, including my syllabus, my right to express myself in class, and my dignity as a professor, if not simply a human being, I resigned under duress. Of course, the administrators have since tried to make it all sound voluntary, as if I simply walked away and nothing ever happened. In fact, the Human Resources department even “papered” my Personnel File later to make it look that way.
Attempts to garner legal assistance since that time have been futile. All of the well-known special interest groups like The Rutherford Institute, Liberty Institute, Thomas More Law Center, the ACLJ, and even the ACLU were all contacted. They either never responded (Rutherford and the ACLU), made up excuses for not being able to take my case (Liberty and the ACLJ), or did what Thomas More did by initially stringing me along for almost a year before arbitrarily deciding to no longer communicate with me.
In November of 2012 I hired a local, private attorney to meet Thomas More’s criteria to file a federal lawsuit, but, again, Erin Mersino at Thomas More was no longer interested in helping, for whatever reason.
When the matter was fully turned over to the private attorney to litigate, he more-or-less played around for nearly five months and did nothing, except take the retainer monies paid (about $5,000 in donor money) and then decided to move to Corpus Christi.
Most recently the ACLJ (Jay Sekulow’s organization) sent me the following form response to a second request for assistance:
Dear Mr. Derengowski:
Thank you for contacting the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Our legal staff has reviewed your inquiry regarding the circumstances surrounding your resignation from Tarrant County College, and we have determined that the ACLJ is unable to assist you at this time. While we understand your concerns, unfortunately, this matter does not present an issue that the ACLJ can address on your behalf.
We appreciate your inquiry and hope that you will feel free to contact us in the future should the need arise. As for now, please understand that the ACLJ is not representing you in any legal matter.
We encourage you, however, to stay involved with the ACLJ and informed on important contemporary legal issues. “Jay Sekulow Live” is a daily radio program which can be heard across the country. Please refer to our website at www.aclj.org for the station closest to you. The website is also an excellent resource for news and the issues we deal with on a daily basis.
FOR LAW AND JUSTICE
So, currently, I’m back to square one, without any legal representation, and the two Muslim jihadists and TCC officials carry on, again, as if nothing ever happened.
It is an outrage that has easily gotten lost amid short attention spans and piecemeal sound bites often labeled “the news.”
It is also a tragedy that I had given up hope of ever seeing rectified, until my friends and family urged me to not give up; to keep trying to find that law firm or counselor who would help; to keep telling the story until enough people understood that this was every bit as much about them as it was myself and my students who came under assault that early November evening in 2011.
I’ll leave for now by, again, thanking Helen and Rocky for their friendship and hospitality in allowing me to post on their blog.
Additional information, including all the legal documents associated with “my story” may be found at capro.info under the Cult tab and then the Islam heading. Or one may simply click on “Tell them thetruth…After all, that’s all I ever tried to do,” read “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey used to say) and peruse the links on the sidebar.
Also, for those wishing to write and ask questions or offer suggestions, you may do so by writing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, however, that all questions and suggestions must be accompanied by a full name (first and last) and location (city and state or country), if you expect any kind of response. Given the nature of my story, I’m sure you will understand.Thank you.
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