Argued: December 11, 2018
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Greenbelt. George Jarrod Hazel, District Judge.
Oliveri, THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER, Ann Arbor, Michigan, for
G. Scott, PESSIN KATZ LAW, P.A., Towson, Maryland, for
Tyler Brooks, Richard Thompson, THOMAS MORE LAW CENTER, Ann
Arbor, Michigan, for Appellant.
J. O'Meally, Lisa Y. Settles, PESSIN KATZ LAW, P.A.,
Towson, Maryland, for Appellees.
W.T. Carroll, CARROLL, UCKER & HEMMER LLC, Columbus,
Ohio, for Amicus Curiae.
KEENAN, WYNN, and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.
BARBARA MILANO KEENAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE
case, we consider whether two statements concerning Islamic
beliefs, presented as part of a high school world history
class, violated a student's First Amendment rights under
either the Establishment Clause or the Free Speech Clause.
The student, Caleigh Wood, contends that school officials
Evelyn Arnold and Shannon Morris (the defendants) used the
statements about Islam to endorse that religion over
Christianity, and compelled Wood against her will to profess
a belief in Islam.
our review, we conclude that the challenged coursework
materials, viewed in the context in which they were
presented, did not violate Wood's First Amendment rights,
because they did not impermissibly endorse any religion and
did not compel Wood to profess any belief. We therefore
affirm the district court's judgment awarding summary
judgment in favor of the defendants.
the 2014-2015 school year, Wood was an eleventh-grade student
at La Plata High School, a public high school in Charles
County, Maryland. Arnold was La Plata's principal, and
Morris was employed as one of the school's
eleventh-grade student, Wood was required to take a world
history course, which was part of the school's social
studies curriculum. The year-long course covered time periods
from the year "1500 to the [p]resent." Among the
topics covered in the course were the Renaissance and
Reformation, the Enlightenment period, the Industrial
Revolution, and World Wars I and II. The topics were divided
into separate units, with each unit generally being taught
over a period of between ten and twenty days.
smallest unit of the world history course, encompassing five
days, was entitled "The Muslim World." The unit was
"designed to explore, among other things, formation of
Middle Eastern empires including the basic concepts of the
Islamic faith and how it along with politics, culture,