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District sorry for homeschooler-terrorist link

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 09/23/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

A school district that participated in a terrorist-attack response drill apologized for using a scenario in which children were threated by a fictitious radical group that believes everyone should be homeschooled.

The made-up group, called Wackos Against Schools and Education, was invented by the local government emergency services director.

The Muskegon Area Intermediate School District, or MAISD, in Michigan said it “shared the disappointment of others” when it learned Tuesday’s preparedness drill referenced home schoolers as the fictitious group responsible for a mock disaster.

“We apologize,” the district said in a statement. “The MAISD and local districts were not aware of the scenario, and it was not shared with students or parents who took part in the exercise.”

Dan Stout, chief deputy of Muskegon County Emergency Services, said the scenario was constructed in his office.

A sample scenario was required in order to receive the necessary federal funding to stage the event, he said.

The district said the exercise was “unfortunately clouded by the choice of this fictional group.”

“As educators, we believe that the first and most important teacher is the parent, whether in home schools, public schools, or non-public schools,” the district said. “We all work together to ensure a safe and secure environment for our children to live and grow.”

The statement concluded: “We sincerely regret offending homeschool educators. We believe that all parents are educators and do important work at home with their children.”

The exercise in Muskegon, Mich., using $5,000 of homeland-security grant money, simulated a situation in which a bomb on board a bus full of children knocks the vehicle on its side and fills the passenger compartment with smoke.

Stout told WorldNetDaily the choice of the fictitious group certainly was not meant to offend homeschoolers.

“I don’t think there was any particular objective other than to just have a name,” he said in an interview immediately after the event Tuesday.

A WND reader who saw a story about the exercise in the Muskegon Chronicle, however, said he was “outraged” at the characterization of the terrorists.

Stout said the general idea for the type of group came from the website of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, which suggests group names such as “Wackos Against Recreation” and other such “causes.”

In a written apology issued yesterday, Stout said the fictional group he concocted had nothing to do with any real homeschool population.

“Homeschool students and former students are a very important part of our nation,” he said. ‘This scenario will not be used again.”

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