A federal lawsuit against the San Diego Unified School District which alleged that the District's “Anti-Islamophobia Initiative” was religiously preferential, has been resolved with a court settlement.
The lawsuit, brought by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, claimed that the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s (CAIR) Initiative gave Muslim students special protections.The Initiative was launched in 2017 after the CAIR claimed that Islamophobia was sweeping through schools after the November 2016 elections.
The Initiative taught students “how to become allies to Muslim students” and allowed CAIR officials to teach students about Islamic religious practices and to revise school curricula to ensure a more inclusive portrayal of Islam.
The complaint alleged that the Initiative violated the Constitution since it gave Muslim students preferential benefits and gave CAIR officials governmental decision-making authority, which would constitute government entanglement with religion.
In accordance with the settlement, the San Diego Unified School District released a memo with instructions concerning recognition of religious beliefs and customs, saying “Instruction about religion shall not promote or denigrate the beliefs or customs of any particular religion or sect, nor should a preference be shown for one religious viewpoint over another.”
After the settlement was reached, the San Diego Unified School District released a memo with revised directives in accordance with the settlement, which stated that "educators should treat each religion with equal respect," and that neither educators, staff or guest speakers are allowed to promote their personal religious views when acting in official capacity.
“Biased outside groups, such as CAIR, have no business influencing policies in our public schools. We hope this agreement will encourage school districts nationwide to reject appeals to build coalitions offered by controversial sectarian organizations,” Mary Baker, President of Citizens for Quality Education San Diego, said in response to the settlement.