Guest speaker at Barron Collier High leads to controversy

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NAPLES, Fla.- Some parents are outraged about a recent guest speaker at Barron Collier High School.

Doctor Omer Taspinar is a leading expert in the study of relations between the United States and Turkey. Collier County Public Schools says they were lucky he was available to speak to students.

“He has a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University, he’s a professor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. He trains military leaders in Middle Eastern affairs,” said district spokesman Greg Turchetta.

Taspinar is also Muslim, and that lead to three people sending angry emails to the district.

“I’m writing to ask why my son and many other students had to sit through a speech by a Muslim
speaker yesterday about Muslims and I was NOT informed,” said one email.

“I was informed that yesterday a Muslim (definition-a follower of the religion of Islam)
was invited into the school as a “guest speaker” to the students and I am outraged,” said another.

Turchetta tells WINK News this was not a talk about religion.

“This was about Turkey and many people don’t know, Turkey is critical to what the United States
is doing in the Middle East.”

The district also heard a complaint that the doctor was asked about Syrian refugees.

“He made a comment that the U.S. could have absorbed them based on a stable democracy
and good economy,” said Turchetta.

Despite the couple of complaints, the district says they will not stop bringing in guest speakers.

“We will continue to strive to have educational opportunities for our students,” said Turchetta.
“Especially, high-end, expert-level people.”

Turchetta says they never inform parents about speakers if their topic is on par with the curriculum.

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