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School officials: Rumors teacher made controversial comments about 9/11 untrue
International attention prompted district to respond

Rumors about a Forsyth County Schools teacher making controversial comments about 9/11 in the classroom are not true, according to the district.

An online website by political activist and commentator Pamela Geller called The Geller Report published an article presenting redacted Facebook comments that allege the teacher told students “that 9/11 was our fault because we pushed western culture on them” and "they had very good reason to bomb us."

The article included the email contact for Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden and encouraged readers to contact him.

The online website The Geller Report posted an article on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, alleging that a Forsyth County Schools teacher made controversial statements about 9/11 in the classroom and displayed verses from the Quran. A Forsyth County Schools investigation found the allegations to be false and requested the website correct the story.

According to Jennifer Caracciolo, director of communications for Forsyth County Schools, the allegations have been investigated at the school and district level and were determined to be false.

“Forsyth County Schools is aware of false information on a national political activist’s website concerning one of our schools,” Bearden said in a statement to the FCN. “We take our responsibility to educate today’s youth seriously and have fully investigated the matter to ensure that the standards are being taught appropriately. Forsyth County Schools has requested that the author correct this error immediately and that future stories are substantiated prior to publication.”

Caracciolo said the district was first contacted about the rumor early Friday morning. Emails came from around the world. Phone calls continue to come in from around the country, she said.

The emails and phone calls have been so aggressive in tone, Caracciolo said, that the district has decided not to release the name of the school, teacher or class related to the alleged incident.

Caracciolo said the school in which the incident is alleged to have occurred was first contacted about the rumor Wednesday morning by a local resident, at which point the school started an investigation. Caracciolo said the district became aware of the rumor early Friday morning and conducted its own investigation.

Caracciolo said the district determined the alleged comments were not said, and that The Geller Report misrepresented a piece of artwork in the classroom of the Quran. 

The Geller Report's article said "Quran verses (hang) up on the classroom walls." The district's investigation found that there was a piece of artwork related to the Quran in the classroom provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. Caracciolo said the artwork aligns with the school system's curriculum and is not unlike other international pieces of art provided by educational groups and local museums that are displayed around county schools throughout the year. Caracciolo said this particular piece has been used since 2010.

Geller is a former newspaper editor and now president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization she co-founded that has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.