Gender Notification Policy, CRT Ban at California School District Can Remain During Trial

Gender Notification Policy, CRT Ban at California School District Can Remain During Trial

Parents demonstrate at a school board meeting amid controversy surrounding school curriculum in Temecula, Calif., on June 13, 2023. (Micaela Ricaforte/The Epoch Times)

Sophie Li

Sophie Li

2/26/2024

Updated: 2/26/2024

A judge has allowed a parental notification policy and a ban on critical race theory enacted by the board of education in the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) to stand during trial in a Feb. 23 ruling.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Eric Keen denied a request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the school board’s directive mandating school personnel inform parents if students change their gender identity. Additionally, the ruling lets stand the prohibition on teaching critical race theory (CRT), an ideology that divides people into oppressors and oppressed based on race.
“This is a win for commonsense, parents, and the safety of students,” said Robert Tyler, president of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a nonprofit law firm. “TVUSD is committed to providing a quality education free from political agendas and free from dishonest and divisive curriculum. This ruling allows TVUSD to continue implementing these sound policies.”
Last year, a lawsuit was filed by the local teachers union and some students, parents, and teachers, arguing that the district seeks to eliminate “any concepts that conflict with [the board members’] ideological viewpoints, including the history of the LGBTQ rights movement and the existence of racism in today’s society.”
The lawsuit, filed in August, claims the board’s ban on CRT was ambiguous and violated the California Constitution’s assurance of a fundamental right to education.
A man holds up a sign against critical race theory at a school board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2022. (The Epoch Times)

A man holds up a sign against critical race theory at a school board meeting in Temecula, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2022. (The Epoch Times)

However, in the ruling issued Friday, the judge stated that he found no ambiguity in the board’s ban.
“A person of ordinary intelligence would have a reasonable opportunity to know what is prohibited as what is prohibited is set out specifically in the Resolution,” Mr. Keen wrote.
Additionally, the judge found that the tenets of CRT and other similar material banned by the district lacks legitimate educational value.
“Theories such as these (and others banned by the Resolution) which are precepts taught within Critical Race Theory would seem to lack any legitimate pedagogical concern and would not be reasonably related to legitimate educational concerns,” he wrote.
At least one local teacher has expressed concern over the district’s policy, saying it’s keeping students from learning important concepts.
“As a teacher, my role is to introduce my students to a broad range of viewpoints so they can learn to think critically and form their own opinions about the world,” said Dawn Sibby, teacher at Temecula Valley High School, in a statement. “This ban has created a climate of fear in our classrooms, and it is preventing my students from learning about the history and diversity of our nation.”
The judge dismissed this argument.
“The Court agrees with the Defense that the showing by the Plaintiffs that actual quality of the district’s program, viewed as a whole, has fallen fundamentally below prevailing statewide standards is insufficient,” the ruling said.
Critical race theory remains a highly controversial political issue, and the teaching of such in public schools has been restricted in around half of U.S. states.
Parents concerned about critical race theory (CRT) took home buttons like this from a school board activist training put on by the The Leadership Institute in Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2022. (Nanette Holt/The Epoch Times)

Parents concerned about critical race theory (CRT) took home buttons like this from a school board activist training put on by the The Leadership Institute in Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 19, 2022. (Nanette Holt/The Epoch Times)

Regarding the parent notification policy, the judge stated that it applies equally to all individuals, thereby invalidating the plaintiff’s claim of discrimination.
“The Policy is gender neutral and does not expressly single out transgender or gender non-conforming students, as it applies to any student’s request to change their school official or unofficial records,” Mr. Keen said.
The same judge rejected two dismissal motions by the defendants a week before the ruling, keeping the case active for discovery and a potential trial.
“It’s a very interesting topic. I’m fairly certain it’s not going to end here, it’s going to move up the system,” he said, ABC7 reported.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, the plaintiffs’ attorney Amanda Mangaser Savage stated her intention to appeal the ruling, reported the news outlet.
“We obviously disagree with the court’s ruling today,” she said. “Frankly, it puts Temecula in the same league as Texas and Florida with respect to censorship on ideological grounds.”
But Joseph Komrosky, president of the school board, who is also facing a recall election in July, said that he maintains optimism about the district in the face of opposition.
“Despite the small but vocal opponents that seek to rewrite history and indoctrinate students, I am very optimistic for our school district,” Mr. Komrosky said in a statement. “I believe that the diversity that exists among the District’s community ... is an asset to be honored and valued. These policies were enacted by the school board to ensure our district puts the needs of students and their parents above all else.”
Joseph Komrosky, school board president at Temecula Valley Unified School District in Temecula, Calif. (Courtesy of Stephanie Dawson)

Joseph Komrosky, school board president at Temecula Valley Unified School District in Temecula, Calif. (Courtesy of Stephanie Dawson)

Mr. Komrosky told The Epoch Times that the next court hearing is scheduled for May 23.
The school district is also facing a possible $1.5 million fine, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last July, for declining to adopt California state-endorsed social studies curriculum which includes references to LGBT activist and politician Harvey Milk.
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Sophie Li

Sophie Li

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Sophie Li is a Southern California-based reporter covering local daily news, state policies, and breaking news for The Epoch Times. Besides writing, she is also passionate about reading, photography, and tennis.

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