Southern California School Board Sued Over Critical Race Theory Ban

Southern California School Board Sued Over Critical Race Theory Ban

People protest a special meeting to discuss critical race theory with the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board and invited experts in Temecula, Calif., on March 22, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

8/2/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Several students, parents, and teachers are suing the Temecula Valley Unified school board over its decision to ban the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.
They, along with the local teacher’s union—Temecula Valley Educators Association—filed a civil complaint Aug. 2 against the board over its Dec. 13 resolution to ban the teaching of critical race theory, which is an ideology that, in part, divides society into oppressors and oppressed based on race.
The suit seeks to overturn the district’s ban and create a legal precedent that could affect several other California school boards that have enacted similar bans, including the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.
Temecula Valley Unified’s conservative majority passed the ban shortly after they were sworn in on Dec. 13, arguing that such is a “divisive ideology that assigns moral fault to individuals solely on the basis of an individual’s race and, therefore, is itself a racist ideology.”
A special meeting is held to discuss critical race theory with the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board and invited experts in Temecula, Calif., on March 22, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

A special meeting is held to discuss critical race theory with the Temecula Valley Unified School District Board and invited experts in Temecula, Calif., on March 22, 2023. (Brad Jones/The Epoch Times)

However, plaintiffs argued in an Aug. 2 statement that the rule bans a “sweeping and ill-defined range of content” and censors concepts that conflict with the trustees’ viewpoints.
“While the board claims that its ban targets critical race theory, board members have used the resolution’s vague provisions to eliminate from Temecula’s classrooms 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 statement said.
Temecula Valley teacher and plaintiff Dawn Sibby said in the same statement that the ban brought a “climate of fear” to classrooms.
“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,” Ms. Sibby said. “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. I’m proud to be a plaintiff in this case to fight for my students, who deserve an education not censored by board members’ ideological beliefs.”
Board president Joseph Komrosky told The Epoch Times that the board had not been served with the lawsuit as of Aug. 2.
“In my view, this suit effectively represents an effort by those behind it to secure the ability to use [critical race theory] and its precepts of division and hate as an instructional framework in our schools,” Mr. Komrosky said in an email to The Epoch Times. “As one of three trustees who voted for the resolution and who prioritizes the interests of our students and the rights of parents and legal guardians, I do not believe that [critical race theory] or any racist ideology is a suitable educational framework for classroom instruction at the elementary and secondary level.”
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)

The Temecula Valley Unified board gained statewide attention this summer when it twice rejected, then ultimately approved, an elementary social studies textbook that Mr. Komrosky deemed inappropriate for its inclusion of LGBT activist Harvey Milk, whom the board president called a “pedophile” due to reports that Mr. Milk had a sexual relationship with a minor as an adult.
However, the board voted to approve the curriculum July 21, with the recommendation that teachers swap the material that includes Mr. Milk with something more “age appropriate.”
Mr. Komrosky’s comment gained attention from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who threatened to send copies of the contested “Social Studies Alive” to Temecula students and to enact legislation that would fine the district $1.5 million if the board didn’t approve the textbook.
Mr. Komrosky said the vote was not in response to Mr. Newsom’s threats but to avoid a costly lawsuit.
“Gov. Newsom, I act independently and authoritatively from you,” he said during the July 21 meeting. “If we do not provide curriculum—I want everybody to hear this—we will literally be sued.”
Even with its about-face on the issue, the governor called for a civil rights investigation into the district in a July 21 statement.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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