Lawsuit filed against Washington Elementary district after cutting ties with Christian university
GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Two weeks after the Washington Elementary School District Governing Board voted unanimously to cut its pipeline for student teachers with Arizona Christian University, they are now facing a lawsuit. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a new lawsuit on Thursday on behalf of ACU in federal court, claiming religious discrimination. ADF says there haven’t been any complaints about the ACU students working at WESD and said the decision violates “the university’s constitutionally protected freedoms.”
The two sides had worked together for 11 years, where university students would student-teach and shadow teachers at the district. But on Feb. 23, the district voted to stop working with ACU because its values don’t align with ACU. The district said it’s an institution that tells students and staff to spread their religious beliefs and requires them to sign a statement of faith that has anti-LGBTQ principles.
Also, on Thursday, dozens of parents attended the Governing Board meeting to voice their opinion about the decision to end the WESD-ACU relationship. Only 80 people from the public were allowed inside the building, with 32 randomly picked to speak for public comment. Board member Tamilia Valenzuela addressed the room, saying adults are perpetuating bullying and hatred. Arizona’s Family is told all members have received threats. Valenzuela claims she received death threats. As a safety precaution, security screened everyone with a metal detector and wand.
Some people outside had posters showing support, while others protested across the street. They pushed for Valenzuela to resign. “Our values are not necessarily her values. And a majority of people don’t have her values,” said Doug Hauser, a former substitute teacher.
However, others felt the board made the right decision. “We’re supporting them because they have been active in the community, and they do a good job at identifying and making sure everyone is inclusive in the decisions they make,” said Ne’Lexia Galloway, executive director for the Maricopa County Democratic Party.
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