U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia A. Bashant will hear oral argument on Tuesday, July 17, on the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case Citizens for Quality Education San Diego, et al. v. San Diego Unified School District, et al., in which five families and two local organizations are challenging the constitutionality of the San Diego Unified School District’s ongoing “anti-Islamophobia initiative.”
At the hearing, attorneys for both parties will present argument about whether the court should enjoin District officials from enforcing the initiative, which singles out Muslim students for special benefits and empowers a controversial Islamic organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), to revise school curricula to depict Islam in a more “inclusive” light. The school district claims they rescinded the policy in July 2017, but thousands of pages of documents show District officials are still working with CAIR to carry out a so-called “Islamophobia Toolkit” for teachers. After the hearing, the court could rule on the motion before the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
“Preventing bullying and protecting our students is critically important, but public school policies must not discriminate in favor of one religion. San Diego Unified School District’s anti-Islamophobia initiative divides students along religious lines and allows a controversial sectarian syndicate unlimited access to impressionable children. Consequently, the initiative runs roughshod over bedrock First Amendment principles.”
To obtain an injunction, FCDF must prove that its underlying lawsuit is likely to succeed, that irreparable harm is likely to occur without the order, and that halting the school district’s initiative is in the public interest. FCDF must also show that the potential injury to the plaintiffs caused by the initiative’s ongoing implementation outweighs any potential harm from stopping it. According to school district records, officials reported just two incidents of anti-Muslim bullying in the 2015 and 2016 school years.
The initiative was developed as a joint venture with CAIR, which considers this initiative a pilot program for a nationwide rollout. In fact, CAIR filed a friend of the court brief in support of the initiative, to which FCDF filed a response. You can also read FCDF’s reply to the District’s opposition here.