Wrestling coach sues Fordson principal, school district

By J. PATRICK PEPPER
Times-Herald Newspapers
DEARBORN — The nearly four year dispute between former Fordson High School wrestling coach Gerry Marszalek and Principal Imad Fadlallah could be resolved in a federal courthouse.
Marszalek last week filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against Fadlallah and Dearborn Public Schools.
He and Fadlallah have been at odds since fall 2005, when the principal ordered the coach to release a volunteer wrestling coach because the volunteer was an evangelist minister.
At the time, Fadlallah said he received complaints from parents and students that the coach, Trey Hancock, had been using his position on the team to try to convert Muslims to Christianity. Fadlallah pointed to a nonteam wrestling function in Port Huron at which Hancock baptized a Muslim boy.
Hancock firmly has denied proselytizing when he was coaching, and said the boy was baptized on his own accord.
When Marszalek eventually dismissed Hancock from the team, Fadlallah told Marszalek that Hancock no longer could attend meets or practices even in an observational capacity, despite the fact that Hancock’s son, Paul, was a star on the team who eventually went on to win a state championship in the 112-pound division as a senior. Following the 2007-08 season, Fadlallah told Marszalek his services would no longer be needed.
Marszalek is being represented by the Thomas More Law Center, which is described on the group’s Web site as a “public interest law firm dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life.” The center was founded in 1999 by former Domino’s Pizza chief executive Tom Monaghan and recently argued the case of an evangelical minister who wanted to distribute religious materials inside the Arab International Festival on Warren in June.
DPS officials did not return phone calls seeking comment on the suit.

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