SAN DIEGO – On May 22, Attorney Charles LiMandri with the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) filed a complaint against the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and its board members on behalf of San Diego Asian Americans for Equality Foundation, a non-profit public benefit corporation, and the parents of five minor children who have students enrolled in elementary, middle and high school in the district.
The lawsuit seeks to to enjoin the district from enacting, implementing and enforcing “the unconstitutional policies, practices and acts of the Anti-Islamophobia Initiative.”
LiMandri, who has represented religious liberty cases for over 12 years on a pro bono basis until the need became so great his private law practice could no longer personally fund the work, founded the nonprofit FCDF in September 2012 to allow others to support the mounting escalation of religious freedom cases.
Last year California passed Assembly Bill 2845, amending sections of the Education Code relating to school safety. The bill was titled “Safe Place to Learn Act.”
AB 2845, which CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) lobbied heavily to pass, states: “All pupils deserve and need safe and supportive school environments in which to learn.
“Pupils who are Muslim, Sikh, or of South Asian descent often face verbal, physical, or online harassment, all of which have significant effects on their academic achievement and mental health.
“Recent reports indicate that more than half of Muslim and Sikh pupils in California report that they have faced verbal threats or insults, cyberbullying, or physical assaults.”
It claims the federal government has recognized the harm caused by such bullying and has “called upon Muslim parents to contact the United States Department of Justice or the United States Department of Education if their children are bullied at school.”
Under the guise of combating bullying, the legislature, in enacting AB 2845, encouraged “school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to provide information on existing schoolsite and community resources to educate teachers, administrators and other school staff on the support of Muslim, Sikh and other pupils who may face anti-Muslim bias and bullying …”
The lawsuit states SDUSD has “engaged with CAIR, an Islamic advocacy organization, to enact, implement, and enforce an ‘integrated and holistic’ anti-Islamophobia initiative across the SDUSD, purportedly to combat bullying and discrimination against Muslim student and their families.”
Under the guise of its anti-bullying program, the complaint alleges SDUSD, in collaboration with CAIR, has set up “a subtle, discriminatory scheme that establishes Muslim students as the privileged religious group within the school community,” leaving students of other faiths left on the outside, vulnerable to religious motivated bullying, “while Muslim students enjoy an exclusive right to the school district’s benevolent protection.”
Citing the United States Supreme Court has held government must be neutral toward religion and may not aid, foster or promote one religion or religious belief over other religions or religious beliefs, the lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that SDUSD has violated plaintiffs constitutional and statutory rights, a preliminary and permanent injunction to bar the implementation and enforcement of SDUSD’s unconstitutional policies, practices and acts.
Policies require SDUSD officials to report all instances of bullying and harassment of K-12 students based on religion.
According to the district’s “Protected Class Report” from July 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 there were seven reported incidents.
Noting the district’s current enrollment report indicates there are 129,238 K-12 students, the complaint points out that equates to approximately 0.005 percent of the students enrolled in the district who reported an incident of religious bullying and harassment.
It was in July 2016 that the school board voted unanimously to direct the school district to develop an initiative that would enact policies and practices to address Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslim students and their families (“Anti-Islamophobia Initiative”).
District officials updated the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (“LCAP”), delivering a PowerPoint presentation to the board in April 2017, through which the district promulgated polices and practices to enact, implement and enforce the Anti-Islamophobia Initiative.
The presentation, under Immediate Actions, called for the district to “Distribute a letter to staff and parents addressing Islamophobia and direct support; Review district calendars to ensure Muslim holidays are recognized; Provide resources and strategies to support students during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” and more.
“Action Steps” to take before the start of the 2017-2018 school year included: “Review and vet materials related to Muslim culture and history at the Instructional Media Center or in the video libraries,” as well as “Explore and engage in formal partnerships with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”
The presentation included “Steps over multiple years” for enactment, implementation and enforcement, including: “Provide a series of professional opportunities for staff related awareness and advocacy for Muslim culture,” and “Provide practical tools for educators regarding Islamic religious practices and accommodations in schools.”
The policies for implementation under “Student empowerment” included: “Explore clubs at the secondary level to promote the American Muslim Culture and the student experience.”
The complaint points out CAIR identifies itself as America’s largest civil liberties organization with a stated “Core Principle” that it “believes the active practice of Islam strengthens the social and religious fabric of our nation.”
Part of CAIR’s stated mission is to “enhance understanding of Islam” and “empower American Muslims.”
The United States Department of Health and Human Services defines bullying as: “Aggressive behavior that is intentional and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Typically, it is repeated over time.”
According to the complaint, the district’s interpretation of bullying is dissimilar to CAIR’s interpretation, whereas CAIR states the term bullying “refers exclusively to bias-related actions committed by students.”
CAIR-CA encourages students to report bullying incidents through its website. CAIR may then report the incident to the district, which would then subject the accused bully to a formal investigation and disciplinary action.
CAIR-CA lobbied to pass the Anti-Islamophobia Initiative and stated, if it were successful, “San Diego Unified School District would be the leading school district in the nation to come up with a robust and beautiful anti-bully and anti-Islamophobic program.”
The complaint goes on to state CAIR’s expectation for the Anti-Islamophobia Initiative is not simply intended to address instances of bullying and harassment within SDUSD but rather a pilot program through which CAIR is attempting to advance its mission in schools nationwide.
And, SDUSD’s partnership with CAIR in the anti-Islamophobia program “directly aids CAIR’s organizational objectives of empowering American Muslims and enhancing the understanding of Islam, both of which are intrinsically religious in nature.”
CAIR has repeatedly lobbied against a bill first introduced by U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachmann in 2014 to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
CAIR is concerned that “The bill’s Islamophobic sponsors and supporters believe it will pass this year because the Republican Party now controls Congress and the White House.”
Claiming the bill’s goal seeks “a return to McCarthy-era witch hunts targeting Muslim civil society organizations by falsely promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that American Muslims are being ‘secretly controlled’ by overseas groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.”
CAIR, under the guise that Islam is simply a religion, is using our Constitution to infiltrate and dominate North America.
I strongly encourage readers to revisit, or in the event you may have missed them the first time around, my July 1, 2015 article: “Muslim Brotherhood and Communist plans for America” and my June 1, 2016 article: “Obama’s dangerous mix of Communism and the Muslim Brotherhood.”