CHATHAM — A North Jersey school district is confident it will win a suit brought by a parent who claims the school tried to convert her child because a lesson about the Muslim faith was taught during a class.

In a statement, the district said that while it did not get the dismissal of the case it considers "frivolous," it said that lessons about Hinduism and Buddhism were also taught in the Middle Eastern Nations Unit of a World Cultures and Geography class.

"This, as Judge McNulty correctly noted in his opinion, would entirely eviscerate Plaintiff’s claim that the District was promoting or endorsing the Islamic faith. In other words, there is nothing in Judge McNulty’s opinion that would suggest that the District acted inappropriately or that it violated any student’s constitutional rights in this case. Unfortunately, the District and its staff will be required to spend countless hours defending this baseless lawsuit," the district wrote in the statement posted to its website.

In a federal lawsuit filed last January, Libby Hilsenrath says the Chatham Middle School "assailed" her child's First Amendment rights "by forcing children to endure the promotion of Islam in their public schools, including an explicit and direct call to the children for conversion to the religion of Islam."

The suit, filed by the Thomas More Law Center, claimed the lesson gave a "sugarcoated, false depiction of Islam," and added that "they were not informed of the kidnappings, beheadings, slave-trading, massacres, and persecution of non-Muslims, nor the repression of women — all done in the name of Islam."

The Michigan-based law center, whose slogan is "Battle ready to defend America," said in a statement the school's attempt to dismiss the case was an attempt to "bully and silence" Hilsenrath.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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