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Tarrant County College to investigate dispute over professor's lecture on Islam

12/14/2011 10:54 PM

02/28/2012 9:26 AM

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FORT WORTH -- Allegations of threats and discrimination that have characterized a controversy over a lecture on Islam will be part of a Tarrant County College investigation that is expected to include interviews of students in the class.

Professor Paul Derengowski's Great Religions of the World class at TCC Southeast Campus grabbed headlines after a Nov. 8 lecture ended with two Muslim students questioning his source material. Other students in the class have reported feeling threatened by the events that unfolded.

One of the Muslim students, Randa Bedair, apparently e-mailed classmates stating she felt that Derengowski's teachings were biased.

The controversy resulted in Derengowski's resignation Nov. 15.

Now, TCC is under community scrutiny to find out exactly what happened.

"It's regrettable, and we are doing the best we can to gather all the facts," said Bill Greenhill, president of the TCC board of trustees.

Greenhill said the administration is looking at various issues that have surfaced, including what type of threats or disturbance took place in the class, whether discrimination was involved and whether the professor's syllabus was appropriate.

Greenhill said the investigation will include questioning all the students about the incident -- after finals are over.

"We are not going to pounce on anybody's rights," Greenhill said. "We have to figure out what the facts are."

Derengowski filed a campus police report after the class. The college declined to release a copy to the Star-Telegram, saying it was part of their investigation.

"It's being held pending our findings," TCC spokesman Frank Griffis said.

The call for deep scrutiny was made by retired attorney Roger Norman, who aired his concerns during the public-comment portion of Wednesday's board meeting.

"I requested that they investigate this matter thoroughly and quickly," Norman said, adding that any findings of threats committed should result in expulsion.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675

Twitter: @dianestar

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