- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Christian-based advocacy group says several Tennessee school districts haven’t complied with its open records request about Islam curriculum being taught in public schools.

The American Center for Law & Justice made the request to all 146 school districts and state special schools for information on what students are learning about Islam and other religions, how students are being taught and what resources teachers are using.

A spokeswoman for the group, CeCe Heil, told The Tennessean newspaper the request was made after concerned parents contacted them. The nonprofit group advocates and litigates freedom of religion and free speech issues.

Metro Nashville, Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson counties are among districts that haven’t complied with the request.

Attorney Chuck Cagle, whose Nashville firm represents about 70 state school systems, said the reason for the denials is because the ACLJ isn’t a Tennessee resident, and therefore, not qualified to get the records.

“State law says, and now the open records counsel has indeed opined, that they are not a qualified citizen of the state of Tennessee who would have access to the records,” Cagle said.

Heil told the newspaper that the ACLJ will continue efforts to obtain the records requested and that it “isn’t uncommon for a government entity to delay compliance.”

“We deal with government entities regularly and anticipate the necessity of engaging in negotiations pertaining to the actual documentation received,” Heil said in an email. “Our open records requests are valid and signed by an attorney who is a citizen of Tennessee.”

The state provides academic standards, which Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said are designed to provide a deep understanding of how world religions have affected world history.

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