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Fired wrestling coach files suit against Dearborn Fordson
From The Michigan Messenger
More than a year after controversy erupted over the firing of longtime wrestling coach Gerry Marszalek by Dearborn Fordson High School over allegations that one of his volunteer assistant coaches had converted one of the team members to Christianity and baptized him, Marszalek has filed a wrongful termination suit against the Dearborn Public Schools and Fordson Principal Imad Fadlallah.
The situation began in 2005, when a volunteer assistant coach named Trey Hancock, the father of one of the kids on the team and a Pentecostal minister, was fired by the school and ordered to have no contact with students after he baptized a Muslim student
Hancock told the Michigan Messenger last year that the young man he baptized was one of his son’s best friends and had been attending his church for two years when he decided to make his conversion to Christianity complete with a baptism. The young man was not a student at Fordson high school at the time as this took place in the summer before his freshman year.
The complaint (PDF) alleges that Principal Fadlallah’s reaction upon hearing of the student’s conversion was intolerant to the point of violence:
An extract:- Subsequently, in full view of students and faculty, Defendant Fadlallah approached the young Fordson student who had chosen to be baptized a Christian at Hancock’s summer wrestling camp, punched the student, and advised the student that he had “disgraced his family” by converting to Christianity from Islam.
According to the complaint, Fadlallah then banned Hancock from even coming to the school, despite the fact that his son was a student there, and from having any contact with the wrestling team, despite the fact that his son was an all-state wrestler on the team. It continues: -
On or about Thanksgiving Day 2007, Defendant Fadlallah verbally attacked Plaintiff Marszalek shouting “I thought I told you to keep Trey Hancock out of Fordson,” or words to that effect. Defendant Fadlallah then threatened Plaintiff that if he failed to keep Hancock out of Fordson that: “You don’t know how crazy I can get!” Hancock had been in Fordson earlier that day to sign his student son up and pay for his participation in a Fordson “pay to play” sports program.
Defendant Fadlallah then expanded his mandate to Plaintiff Marszalek now barring him from mentioning Hancock, or his independent wrestling club “One On One,” and that despite Hancock’s son currently being an All State wrestler on Fordson’s team, Hancock’s existence was not to be acknowledged at wrestling meets. Defendant Fadlallah then banned the entire Hancock family
After the 2007/2008 school year, Marszalek was fired as the wrestling coach despite having been one of the most successful wrestling coaches in the entire country . . .
The complaint alleges a number of constitutional violations, including violations of Marszalek’s First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of association, as well as religious discrimination under Michigan state law.