CVUSD Will Trust In God In Fighting Anti-Prayer Lawsuit

(January 25) The Chino Valley Unified School District having been drawn into a lawsuit by what the plaintiffs consider to be overly aggressive religious references during school board meetings that verge on blatant proselytizing, a majority of the school board has voted to trust in God and hope a lawyer the district in the legal challenge it is facing.
The Chino Valley Unified School District was sued by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, two identified local plaintiffs and more than 20 unnamed local plaintiffs over the district’s practice of engaging in Christian prayer and Bible readings at school board meetings.
The suit seeks the discontinuation of prayer and religious references during the conducting of official district business.
Referenced specifically in the suit were board president James Na and trustee Andrew Cruz, who are said to pepper their discussions of issues at board meetings with Christian homilies and scripture readings.
The suit was filed by Andrew Seidel, an attorney for Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of Larry Maldonado and Mike Anderson and several other unnamed local plaintiffs, most of whom are believed to be parents of children in the district.
Seidel said he wants the district to discontinue preaching by the board’s members and their promotion of religion.
According to Seidel, the religious references went well beyond invocations, which have been deemed acceptable by the courts, to create an atmosphere in which individuals who do not profess the Christian faith felt uncomfortable.
At the January 15 school board meeting, the entire panel adjourned into a closed session to discuss out of the view of the public what sort of response the district would make to the lawsuit. Such closed door meetings are permitted under the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open public meeting law. During that discussion, the details of which have not been publicly disclosed, trustees Irene Hernandez-Blair and Pamela Feix apparently argued in favor of utilizing the school district’s legal counsel to prepare an answer or alternatively against fighting the lawsuit altogether.  Hernadez-Blair and Pamela Feix were outvoted, however, by  Na, Cruz and board member Sylvia Orozco, who voted to utilize the services of a pro bono attorney.
Without being specific, Na indicated there are numerous attorneys both inside and outside California willing to take the case on for no charge.
For some time, some members of the public who attend board meetings and other district events have remarked upon the degree to which religious references were becoming a part of official proceedings. Some meeting attendees said they felt they were ostracized if they did not profess Christian beliefs. Maldonado, who is a Christian himself, said he consented to being a plaintiff because he believed the religious references were likely to dissuade non-Christians from participating in district events or providing their input to the board.
Former Chino Police Chief Miles Pruitt said he believed those of faith had a right to express their beliefs in public and that those rights were in danger of being abridged by those who would prevent him and others from engaging in prayer at school functions.
Pastor Jack Hibbs of the Calvary Chapel of Chino Hills, which has both junior high and high school ministries,  suggested the lawsuit was the work of the Devil and his agents seeking to remove God from the public education process.

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