Arizona Christian University has recently filed a lawsuit against Washington Elementary School District for violating the university's constitutional rights and Arizona's free exercise of religion act.
As mentioned, the school district is the largest district school in the state, serving over 25,000 children in 33 schools, and voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with Arizona Christian last month. The five-member panel of the school district stated that their decision was based on the university's "strong" anti-LGBTQ position.
Arizona Christian University's Lawsuit
A report from the Religious News Service stated that a lawsuit filed by the university on Thursday, Mar. 9, Arizona Christian asserts that the school district was motivated by anti-religious bigotry and has violated both the university's constitutional rights and Arizona's Free Exercise of Religion Act. The board members and the district are named as defendants in the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the district has recruited at least 17 Arizona Christian education students for eleven years since the program's inception. The lawsuit asserts that the community has never filed a formal complaint against an Arizona Christian student or graduate.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jake Reed, who represents the institution, noted that primary schools across the U.S. are experiencing a teacher shortage and that the school district in question is harming its pupils by cutting off the flow of teachers who have continuously demonstrated excellent service in the school district. Nikkie Gomez-Whaley, president of the district board, said in a statement released last week that the decision had nothing to do with religious prejudice. Moreover, more than two dozen staff members had resigned from the Washington Elementary School District but could not establish why Church Leaders reported.
At a meeting in February, board members highlighted the university's religious goal, particularly its desire to promote "biblically informed principles" such as "traditional sexual morality and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman," as a cause to sever connections with the institution. According to the lawsuit, the university believes in treating every individual with love and respect, regardless of their views or identity, and instructs its faculty and students to "respect and adhere to the regulations of the school districts with which it collaborates." It further states that the district's decision is detrimental to the institution since it forces the university and its students to choose between their collaboration with the community and their religious convictions.
Losing Out Opportunities
Fox News reported that an administrator at Arizona Christian University spoke after the university claimed in a lawsuit that a school district terminated its contract with the university because of its religious beliefs, which the university called an "egregious violation of the law." The university provided student teachers to local schools through the contract.
The head of the education department at ACU, Lynnea Lyding, recently gave a presentation in which she reviewed the decision made in February by the Washington Elementary School District to end 11-year cooperation. The school system was provided with free labor and staffing, and ACU students could fulfill the requisite number of student teaching hours through on-the-job training.
It is reportedly unjust that the students at Arizona Christian University should be penalized or denied opportunities because of their religious beliefs. And this was the activity that the board was engaged in, Lyding stated. The municipality stated it did not have an immediate statement on the litigation because it was still being reviewed.