Local News Articles

Concerns Raised About 7th Grade Islam Studies

November 17, 2015
Dwayne Page
Craig Honeycutt
"My World" textbook by Pearson is currently being used in DeKalb County 7th grade

A middle school curriculum mandating the study of Islam in Tennessee classrooms is raising concern among many parents across the state including here at home. Up to this point education officials have given few details on the topic, and one east Tennessee parent who has researched the issue is asking why is there “so much mystery into this curriculum.”

Close to 100 people filled a meeting room of the county complex in Smithville Friday night to hear Craig Honeycutt of Bristol, who for the last fifteen months has been traveling the state speaking on behalf of Parents Against Islamic Religion in Schools. Friday night's audience in Smithville included concerned local residents, ministers, and teachers in our school system.


The state's standards for 7th Grade Social Studies require every student on that grade level to learn about Islam. They are then tested on it during standardized exams. Christianity is taught in the sixth grade.

Honeycutt, whose daughter is a 7th-grade student in the Bristol City Schools system, said he grew concerned over the standards when he learned she would spend four weeks studying the Islamic world. “Why do we need to give Islam four weeks?,” Honeycutt said. “If you want to teach a few days of Islam in a historic aspect, I’m fine with that. What you’re going to find ... is anything but historic. It’s indoctrination, it’s religion, it’s theology, it’s philosophy, (and) it’s how to convert.”

According to the Tennessee Department of Education website, during those four weeks — which are included in the literacy in social studies subsection of the Tennessee state standards — “students analyze the geographic, political, economic, social, and religious structures of the (Islamic) civilizations.”

In his daughter's middle school, Honeycutt said students have made the digital conversion from textbooks to laptops. "Every keystroke, everything they do is chronologically logged and that information at the end of the year is extracted. Where the children went (online). What website they searched. Everything. They know everything about our children. And it's password protected," he said.

"I have a great relationship with my daughter and I told her I wanted her user ID and password. She gave it to me and I logged in to learn more about her studies," said Honeycutt.

Based on that curriculum, Honeycutt said he learned the textbooks and the supplemental material teach every one of the following as "True":

"Christians and Muslins serve the same GOD"

"Islam teaches equality"

"Islam emphasizes fairness and justice in human affairs for all believers"

"Islam is tolerant and embraces the Jew and Christian belief and practices"

"Mohammed and Jesus were only prophets and teachers with no direct relationship to GOD"

"Sharia law is only made up of the following: Do not gamble, eat pork, and drink alcohol"

"Allah is the only God to worship. The True GOD"

"Sharia law is good for women and gives them equal religious rights"

"Islam is a peaceful religion"

"Mohammed was a good man who brought people together and protected women and children"

The problem is not with the teachers, said Honeycutt. The issue is with the standards and materials mandated by the state.

“We do not object to Islam being taught,” he told WJLE. “It just needs to be taught fairly. I think the theology and indoctrination part goes a little deeper than it should. It’s half truths and some of it even details lies. We just want the truth told to our children.”

Honeycutt elaborated further on examples of educational materials that concerned him.

“In the supplemental material it says that Islam teaches equality,” he said. “In some of the supplemental material that was given to my daughter, it says that we serve the same God as the Muslim God. As a Christian, that’s just not true.”

“In some of the textbooks it talks about how tolerant the Islamic religion is towards Jews and Christians,” he continued. “It talks about how positive Shariah law is for women. It talks about how they allowed Christians and Jews to practice their faiths and how they believed and respected their ability to worship their God. We know that’s not true. If you know the true tenants of Islam, you know there is no truth in that, but unfortunately, that is what the curriculum is teaching in both of the books that have been approved by the state” board of education.

Those two books he referred to are the Pearson My World and the other is known simply as the McGraw Hill book with a King on the front of it. DeKalb Schools use the Pearson book.

Local education officials were asked to respond and gave no details, but pointed to state standards in the following statement issued by the Central Office: “Public education in this state is governed in accordance with the laws enacted by the general assembly and under state policies, standards and guidelines adopted by the state board of education that are necessary for the proper operation of public education in kindergarten through grade twelve.”

The statement went on to say, “The policies, standards and guidelines shall be formulated by the state board of education, with such assistance from the commissioner of education as the state board may request.”

Some educators point out Christianity is taught in the 6th grade, but Honeycutt said Friday night the religious balance is misleading.

“What they do is cover the origins of Christianity,” he explained. “Let’s say you taught four weeks of Christianity and four weeks of Islam. Let’s say it balanced out. Here’s the problem. The Islamic portion is not true. Its half history. Its revisionist history. They don’t tell the truth about Islam.”

“If you look at the weight of the standard here’s the problem,” he said. “In the sixth grade they cover a little bit of Christianity and say it’s the origins of Christianity. If you go to the seventh grade there’s a three-and-a-half to four-weeks study of Islam. If you go over to the African and European chapters that are also being taught in the seventh grade, it is African and European culture study and how it relates to Islam. Then at the end of the seventh grade curriculum they do cover a little bit of Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism. But do you know what they are comparing those religions to? They’re comparing them back to Islam. If you weigh it all up it is three-to-one. So not only are you getting more Islamic teaching than Christianity, it’s a revisionist history. It’s a non-truth. Therein lies the problem.”

The Central Office statement also included a comment from B. Fielding Rolston, Chairman of the State Board of Education, who addressed the World History curriculum.

He said “World History is taught in the sixth and seventh grade, and high school. All major religions are covered in historical context starting with early civilizations through the decline of the Roman Empire in the sixth grade. It continues through the Middle Ages and the exploration of the Americans in the seventh grade. This includes religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism. The focus on each religion depends on the context and influence of the relevant time period.”

As for now, State Board of Education Rules and Regulations regarding curriculum says “The Tennessee Board of Education shall adopt curriculum standards for each subject area, grades K-12. The standards shall specify learning expectations and include performance indicators. The approved standards shall be the basis for planning instructional programs in each local school system.” And, “adopted textbooks shall be aligned with state curriculum standards.”

However, state officials have said because of feedback from educators and stakeholders, they will review the social studies standards earlier than usual. They are normally reviewed every six years, but the state will take a new look starting in January.

The local statement issued by the Central Office encouraged public input.

“The social studies standards review website will be launched in January 2016 and we encourage all Tennesseans to utilize this to provide critical feedback,” the statement said.

And Honeycutt said “parents have to wake up.”

“The first thing is you can ask for the changing of the textbook,” he said. “There are forms you can fill out to have those textbooks pulled because the truth is not in them.”

“Overton County has pulled the book. Fentress County has pulled the book,” he reported Friday night. “We know there are some issues going on with some lawsuits in White County. That’s all we can do is try and wake the people up.”

Secondly, he said “is reach out to your state representatives and let them know” about your concerns.

He expressed some hope an earlier than planned review will lead to changes.

“One thing you must understand is this was a six year standard and it was implemented last year. I've been traveling the state for almost fifteen months and almost 40 dates all across the state of Tennessee,” he explained. “It has gained so much attention this year in its second year that they are actually going to revisit the social studies standard that was supposed to be continued for four more years. So we've already got the momentum on our side. They are going to bring it back into session in January and they are going to look at these standards and find out what the truth is.”
However, he said there are obstacles to changing the curriculum.

“If there is nothing wrong with the curriculum then why are lawyers trying to block the request for what’s being taught?” he asked. “If there is nothing wrong with this curriculum then why is C.A.I.R. (Council on American-Islamic Relations) trying to block House Bill 1418 by Rep. Shelia Butt. (The state board of education shall not include religious doctrine in any curriculum standards for grades prior to grades ten through twelve.) Every time we try to so something there is a roadblock thrown up. If it is just simple curriculm and it is just what’s being taught in school then why so many roadblocks?”


HB1418.pdf (92.07 KB)

Honeycutt also realizes both educators and parents want good test scores.

“At the end of the year they (students) are going to be tested on this material,” he said. “A lot of it will be either in the TCAP tests or what is called a Pilot test that is administered by Pearson which produces one of those two books. So if you teach supplemental material or curriculum that doesn’t follow what the Tennessee standards say to teach, when you test on it you may get low test scores. So nobody wants that. So you have to come up with a curriculum that shows Islam in a positive light. Nobody is objecting to teaching Islam. Just teach the truth.”

State Representatives Terri Lynn Weaver and Mark Pody and State Senator Mae Beavers have said they oppose the state's standards.

Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award

November 16, 2015
Chamber Presents Community Improvement Award

The Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce presented a Community Improvement Award to property owner, Garey Evans, for the significant enhancements made to his building located at 105 West Webb Street right off the Smithville square. Improvements include a new roof and the exterior of the building has a beautiful new two-tone paint scheme. Businesses located in Garey's building include Lack's Muscle Shack Fitness Center, Hootie and Tootie's Treasures/Thrift Store, a batting cage, and Real Life Community Church.

Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Bobbie Wilson, Owner Garey Evans, Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, Smithville Mayor Jimmy Poss

Bain Faces Charges in Assault Case

November 16, 2015
Dwayne Page
Clay Andrew Bain
Donnie Dewayne Frazier
Cayden Katerina Cantrell
Joshua Grissom

A Smithville man accused of assaulting his girlfriend and her daughter during a domestic incident last week was forcibly taken into custody after trying to evade arrest.

24 year old Clay Andrew Bain of Lakeview Drive, Smithville is charged with domestic assault, resisting arrest, aggravated assault, evading arrest, child abuse or neglect, and reckless endangerment. His bond totals $22,500 and he will make a court appearance December 17.

Sheriff Patrick Ray said that on Tuesday, November 10 a deputy was dispatched to Lakeview Drive in reference to a domestic. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Bain's girlfriend who reported that after she and Bain had gotten into an argument he shoved her to the ground causing a cut and swelling to her hand. As the woman's daughter, a minor child, tried to break up the argument, Bain grabbed her by the arm and slung her to the side causing injury to the child's arm and shoulder. After being told by the deputy that he was under arrest, Bain ran into the house and to a back bedroom where he grabbed a muzzleloader pistol from a dresser, and waved it around with the officer and others in the room. Bain was forcibly restrained and handcuffed. The weapon was found to be unloaded.

Two men are in trouble with the law for possession of marijuana after their pickup truck got stuck in a field last week.

43 year old Donnie Dewayne Frazier of North Mill Street, Dowelltown is charged with possession of a schedule VI drug for resale and 30 year old Eric James Cox of Woodbury is cited for criminal trespass, simple possession of drugs, and simple possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond for Frazier is $7,500 and both will make a court appearance on December 17.

Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, November 10 a deputy was dispatched to Game Ridge Road to meet with a landowner who has a field leased for crops. He reported that a pickup truck, occupied by two men, was stuck in the field and that no one had permission to be there. The men appeared to have been illegally hunting.

The officer spoke with both men in the truck, Frazier and Cox, and obtained consent to search. He found two firearms and a black bag which held five individual bags and a Mason jar all containing a green leafy substance thought to be marijuana. Frazier also produced another bag of the same substance (marijuana). Frazier told the officer that the bags and all contents belonged to him.

In the case against Cox, the search turned up a baggie of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana along with a pipe containing marijuana residue.

22 year old Cayden Katerina Cantrell of North Mill Street, Dowelltown is charged with assault and domestic assault. Her bond is $4,000 and she will be in court December 10. Sheriff Ray said on Tuesday, November 10 a deputy responded to a residence on North Mill Street in reference to an assault. Upon arrival the officer spoke with a man who reported that Cantrell got mad and pepper sprayed him in the face as he tried to break up a fight between she (Cantrell) and her sister. In the domestic assault case, Sheriff Ray said the arresting officer spoke to Cantrell's sister who reported that during an argument between them Cantrell grabbed her by the arm and hit her in the face several times. Cantrell was placed under arrest.

20 year old Elijah Caleb Poss of Old West Point Road, Smithville is cited for driving on a suspended license and a violation of the light law. He will be in court on December 2. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, November 14 a deputy stopped Poss' vehicle for a non-working brake light. A computer check revealed his license were suspended for failure to appear on December 23, 2013.

26 year old Joshua Grissom of Old Blue Springs Road, Smithville is charged with violation of an order of protection. His bond is $2,500 and he will make a court appearance on November 19. Sheriff Ray said that on Wednesday, November 11 a deputy was dispatched to a residence on Old Blue Springs Road concerning an unwanted guest. Upon arrival the officer spoke with Grissom who was sitting in a white utility truck and demanding to see his child. But Grissom was in the driveway of a woman who has an active order of protection against him.

Chamber Community Improvement Award Presented to NHC

November 15, 2015
Chamber Community Improvement Award Presented to NHC

The Chamber of Commerce recently presented a well-earned Community Improvement Award to NHC Healthcare, 825 Fisher Avenue, Smithville.

NHC Healthcare interior improvements include new carpet in all of their hallways, TV boards throughout the center, revamped activity rooms and nurses’ stations, new art/pictures, and updated lighting. The exterior improvements include new awnings and new roof on their Long Term Care and Assisted Living side of the building. In addition, NHC Healthcare just received a ZERO deficiency state survey!

Pictured l-r:

Chamber Board Member Kathy Hendrixson, NHC Administrator Clint Hall, NHC Director of Nursing Melinda Wilson, Chamber Director Suzanne Williams, Chamber Board Member Reed Vanderpool

Christmas on the Square Set for December 3

November 14, 2015
Community Chorus at Christmas on the Square in 2014
Shan Burklow and Suzanne Williams light the Christmas Tree

The Christmas season is nearly upon us which means it’s almost time to celebrate Christmas on the Square! This holiday event will be celebrated on Thursday, December 3rd from 5 PM to 8 PM on the Smithville Public Square.

The Community Chorus & other special music will begin at 5 PM on the west side of the Courthouse with Boy Scout Troop #347 having a Flag-Raising Ceremony.

Tree Lighting Ceremony – Held at 5:30 PM on the west side of the Courthouse. Be there for the countdown!

Courthouse Open House – Stop by to visit and enjoy the refreshments and festive atmosphere. Come by and visit the Chamber office in the Courthouse, Room 201.

A FREE Photo Booth & Christmas DJ Music will be provided by the City of Smithville – Enjoy your favorite holiday music throughout the night plus have a fun, complimentary picture made at the Cosmo Creations Photo Booth located inside the west entrance of the Courthouse.

At the Justin-Potter Library, Christmas Carols and Story time – WSMV’s Snowbird will be reading to the children beginning at 6 PM. The library will have a special visit from Santa immediately after, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

There will be extended hours and Open Houses at several downtown stores and offices. This is a wonderful time for Christmas shopping downtown. Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams would like to invite everyone to this enjoyable and heartwarming experience – Christmas on the Square! For more information, call the Chamber office at 615-597-4163.

DeKalb County GOP to Host Legislative Update

November 14, 2015
Mingy Bryant

The DeKalb County Republican Party will be hosting a Legislative Update on Saturday, November 21, 2015, at 9:00AM in the downstairs courtroom at the Courthouse. State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and State Representative Mark Pody will be the featured speakers. They will be discussing issues that will be addressed in the 2016 Legislative Session. All Dekalb County residents are invited to come and hear from your Republican elected officials. Light refreshments will be available.

“We are fortunate to have three strong leaders advocating for us at the State Capital and I am thankful we have this opportunity to hear from them,” GOP Chair Mingy Bryant said. “2016 is going to be a busy election year, starting with the March 1, 2016 Presidential Primary, so we are organizing early to let Dekalb County citizens know how important it is to elect conservative Republicans to local, state, and federal offices.”

The Dekalb County Republican Party will also be hosting their Caucus on Saturday, December 5, 2015, in the downstairs courtroom in the Courthouse. The purpose of the Caucus will be to select a Republican nominee for Dekalb County Property Assessor and Constables in each of the Constable Districts. Interested candidates will be invited to speak at the Saturday, November 21st event. Interested candidates can contact Republican Party Chair Mingy Bryant at 615-597-2600 or Vice Chair Clint Hall at 931-201-6962.

For more information, go to our Facebook Page at Dekalb County Republican Party.

McCoy Gets Eight Years Probation for Theft and Auto Burglary

November 14, 2015
Dwayne Page

A 43 year old woman received an eight year sentence for auto burglary and theft Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

Patsy McCoy entered a plea to theft over $500 and two counts of auto burglary. She received a total sentence of eight years all suspended to supervised probation except for time served. McCoy got a four year sentence in each case. The two auto burglary terms are to run concurrently but consecutive to the theft sentence.

Smithville Police Officer Lance Dillard responded to Wal-Mart in reference to a shoplifter on Saturday, April 4. Upon arrival he spoke with a Loss Prevention Associate who reported that he had witnessed McCoy take several Wal-Mart bags from the front of the store and get a shopping cart. He then saw her pick up several items and remove the price tags before placing them in the bags. The total value of the merchandise was $535.98. McCoy was arrested for Theft of Merchandise.

McCoy was arrested again on Thursday, May 14 for burglary, theft and for resist stop, halt, frisk, arrest, and search. Sergeant Brad Tatrow was called to the emergency room of the hospital in reference to someone burglarizing vehicles in the parking lot. After an investigation McCoy was found to have entered two vehicles in the ER parking lot without the knowledge or consent of the owners and she allegedly took items from each vehicle. Sergeant Tatrow observed McCoy attempting to conceal something in her hand and when he ordered her to produce it she refused. McCoy then pulled away as Sergeant Tatrow tried to retrieve it. Police discovered that McCoy had taken items from the medical floor without the knowledge or consent of hospital personnel.

25 year old Garrett Michael Buckmaster entered a plea by information to three counts of burglary and received a three year sentence in each case to run concurrently with each other but consecutive to a two year sentence he is serving in Putnam County. He was given jail credit of 111 days.

Smithville Police Captain Steven Leffew said Buckmaster and another man, 22 year old Dewayne Watkins were arrested after an investigation into a rash of car burglaries by Lieutenant Matt Holmes, Detective Brandon Donnell, and Officer Lance Dillard. Leffew said many victims came forward within a two week period to report damage to and missing items from their vehicles. Items from some of these thefts were recovered at the home where Watkins and Buckmaster were residing. Detective Donnell made the arrests on Wednesday, July 22. The case against Watkins apparently remains pending in court.

53 year old Keith Dewey Higgins entered a plea to forgery and received a two year sentence on supervised probation. He must make restitution of $197.50 to Wilson Bank and Trust.

50 year old Kenneth Teeples received a two year sentence suspended to supervised probation after pleading guilty to possession of a weapon by a felon. He must also forfeit the firearm.

44 year old Felicia Fullilove entered a plea to sale of a schedule II drug and received a three year TDOC sentence all suspended to supervised probation. She was fined $2,000.

65 year old Jackie Wilkerson pled guilty to attempted delivery of a schedule IV controlled substance and received a one year sentence fully suspended to judicial diversion probation. He was fined $2,000 and must make restitution of $20 to the Alexandria Police Department.

55 year old Cheryl Gotro entered a plea by information to reckless endangerment and received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days on probation.

37 year old Andrew Wilbert pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and received a sentence of 11 months and 29 days to serve 48 hours and then be on supervised probation. He was fined $360. The term is to run concurrent with another sentence against him.

Director Updates School Board on Personnel Moves

November 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Patrick Cripps

Director of Schools Patrick Cripps updated the Board of Education on personnel moves during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting.

Those employed since the October meeting are:

Josh Melton, Educational Assistant at DeKalb Middle School replacing Deborah Knowles
Cindy Washer, bus driver
Jared West, Teacher in Special Education at Northside Elementary School

Deborah Knowles, DeKalb Middle School, retired
Kaci Miller, Educational Assistant at Smithville Elementary School
Laura McMurray, bus driver
James Storie, custodian at Smithville Elementary School

Former Probation Officer Enters Plea to Forgery

November 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Ashley Lasser

A probation officer who allegedly used a client's money order to commit forgery and theft was sentenced Tuesday in DeKalb County Criminal Court.

31 year old Ashley Lasser, who worked for CPS Community Probation Service, entered a plea to forgery and received a four year sentence fully suspended to judicial diversion probation. She cannot work in law enforcement during her term of probation. Lasser must also make restitution to CPS in the amount of $585.00. The theft charge against her was dismissed.

According to the warrant, Lasser passed a forged money order in the amount of $50 to the Dollar General Store in Smithville on Thursday, September 18, 2014. The money order was made out by a client of CPS as payment to Life Savers of Tennessee, which is a probation service where Lasser worked. She allegedly marked out the name Life Savers of Tennessee on the money order, wrote in Dollar General Store, and then passed the forged money order to the clerk.

The probation client, a defendant in a criminal case, had made out the money order to life Savers of Tennessee as payment for attending an anger management class.

Lasser allegedly used the money order at the Dollar General Store to purchase a soft drink and then received change back in cash.

Lasser reportedly was terminated from her job as probation officer after this offense came to light..

The case was investigated by Lieutenant Detective Matt Holmes and former Chief Randy Caplinger of the Smithville Police Department.

Morgan Gets Probation for TennCare Fraud

November 13, 2015
Dwayne Page
Ashley Morgan

A DeKalb County woman charged with TennCare fraud involving prescription drugs was sentenced in DeKalb County Criminal Court on Tuesday.

28 year old Ashley Morgan entered a plea to TennCare Fraud and received a two year sentence all suspended to supervised probation. The term is to run concurrently with a Cannon County sentence against her. She must forfeit her TennCare benefits and make restitution of $1,187.71.

Morgan was first charged with doctor shopping in DeKalb County this past April. She was indicted by the DeKalb County Grand Jury on April 6, 2015 for TennCare Fraud. At that time she lived on Gassaway Road, Liberty. According to the DeKalb County indictment, Morgan unlawfully obtained or attempted to obtain on or about June 14, 2014 a prescription from a healthcare provider and failed to disclose to that healthcare provider that she had received a prescription for a controlled substance of similar therapeutic use from another healthcare provider within the previous 30 days, and she did use TennCare to obtain the benefit, constituting the offense TennCare Fraud.

Morgan was indicted for the same crime in Cannon County in October. In that case, the Cannon County Grand Jury indicted her on three counts of fraudulently obtaining controlled substances by doctor shopping for the painkillers Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, using TennCare to pay for the clinical visits.

“When individuals go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescription drugs through TennCare benefits, state dollars are involved in illegal drug sales,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “We appreciate and value the hard work of the healthcare providers and the local law enforcement across the state and their efforts in helping us develop these cases.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,455 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or go to http://www.tn.gov/finance/topic/fa-oig.


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