Reward set for tips about CAIR at school
TAMPA - David Caton is reaching into his wallet to try to lure students and teachers into reporting any planned appearances by the Council on American Islamic Relations at Steinbrenner High School. The executive director of the Florida Family Association is offering a $1,000 reward for information about a representative of CAIR or another similar organization talking to students at the northwestern Hillsborough County high school. The amount jumps to $2,000 if the notice comes a week or more in advance. "Anybody who provides the information is eligible for the reward," Caton said Monday. "My guess is the information is not going to come from a teacher, it's going to come from a student."The reward offer comes as the Hillsborough County school board continues to wrestle with the topic of guest speakers in the classrooms. The subject has been divisive since Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR's branch in Tampa, spoke to an advanced placement world history class at Steinbrenner late last year. "It's a little disturbing," Shibly said. "They need to move on and do more productive things. It's a waste of time and resources." Candy Olson, chairwoman of the school board, was not happy with the development. "I think it's inappropriate and I think it's sad he would stoop that low," said Olson, who has listed to hours of complaints from CAIR critics at board meetings. "But I am not terribly surprised given his behaviors. "I think that what Mr. Caton did is an unfortunate approach," Olson added. "But he certainly has freedom of speech." It is that freedom of speech which is at the core of the controversy. Shibly's visit to Steinbrenner was seen as an introduction to Islam by some people, but as an infiltration by a group linked to terrorists by others. School board members last week held a workshop on the topic. In the end, they indicated they have enough policies in place on guest speakers in the classroom. That didn't sit well with Caton or Terry Kemple, a leader of the campaign top keep CAIR out of classrooms. "I think the school board not addressing our issue is a bad thing," said Kemple, president of the Community Issues Council and a school board candidate. "That workshop on Friday was a charade, a joke. "This whole issue isn't so much about what David does or what I do," he added. "We are forced to go to whatever extremes we need to go to bring light to the subject. Far be it from me to question his strategy. I applaud him for having the guts to do it." Caton last week blanketed staff members at Steinbrenner with email touting the reward offer. He said he heard one negative comment and two positive comments. He said he doesn't think that anyone from CAIR will return to Steinbrenner anytime soon because of the recent outcry but added he's not sure about that. "I think if Candy Olson had anything to do with it, she would invite them to the school herself," Caton said. Olson said she believes teachers and administrators at Steinbrenner – or any school – would be hesitant to bring CAIR into the classroom. "We don't need an ongoing social studies lesson about getting people riled up," she said.
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