Temecula school district facing lawsuit over ban on critical race theory

Rob McMillan Image
Thursday, August 3, 2023
Temecula school district sued over ban on critical race theory
A lawsuit has been filed against the Temecula Valley Unified School District over its ban on critical race theory.

TEMECULA, Calif. (KABC) -- A lawsuit has been filed against the Temecula Valley Unified School District over its ban on critical race theory.

The lawsuit claims the ban, which was approved by the school board's conservative majority, censors teachers and infringes on students' fundamental right to an education.

Public Counsel, the nonprofit group that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Temecula students, parents and teachers, claims the policy has been used by school board members to stop teaching "any concepts that conflict with their ideological viewpoints, including the history of the LGBTQ rights movement and the existence of racism in today's society."

"The resolution's lack of clarity has chilled many teachers into silence and led to large-scale protests by students who say that their constitutional rights to learn and to be free from discrimination are threatened by the ban," a press release announcing the lawsuit said.

While the Temecula Valley school board has been in the news recently for battling over whether to approve curriculum that mentions gay rights advocate Harvey Milk, this lawsuit is in response to a resolution passed by the board in December 2022 that bans critical race theory.

RELATED: Temecula Valley school board adopts textbooks that include Harvey Milk after warnings from Newsom

The Temecula Valley school board adopted a social studies curriculum that includes gay rights that was approved by parents and teachers after initially rejecting it.

Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America's history through the lens of racism.

It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in U.S. institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. There is little to no evidence that critical race theory is being taught to K-12 public school students, though some ideas central to it, such as lingering consequences of slavery, have been.

But the theory also has become somewhat of a catchall phrase to describe racial concepts some conservatives find objectionable, such as white privilege, systemic inequality and inherent bias.

Several teachers spoke out in support of the lawsuit and read statements prepared by their students about their experiences since that resolution was passed.

"When pieces of history are being left out of textbooks, people will begin to miss the warning signs of discrimination and injustice, leading to the risk of history repeating itself," teacher Amy Eytchison said.

"After implementing the resolution productive conversations around racism, prejudice and bigotry were absent from almost all of my classrooms," teacher Jennee Scharf said.

Eyewitness News reached out to a school district spokesperson for comment and is still waiting for a response.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.