Washington Elementary School District Settles With ACU After Discriminating Against Christians

May 6, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A Christian university in Arizona scored a win for justice this week, ending a two-month legal battle with a local school district.

On Thursday, the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced a settlement between Arizona Christian University (ACU) and the Washington Elementary School District. The lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, originated when the District “decided to terminate its (eleven-year) relationship with Arizona Christian and its students solely because of their religious status and beliefs on biblical marriage and sexuality.”

ACU President Len Munsil claimed victory with the settlement, saying, “This is a complete vindication of the rights of our students to be able to participate as student-teachers in a public school district without fear of religious discrimination. We obtained everything we wanted in this new agreement, without any sacrifice or compromise to our beliefs and our university’s religious purpose. We look forward to a continued beneficial partnership that serves ACU student-teachers and the students, faculty, and staff of the WESD. And we are so grateful for the team at Alliance Defending Freedom for their excellent advocacy for our religious freedoms.”

According to ADF, the “district’s board voted Wednesday night to enter a new agreement allowing ACU students to teach in the district once again” The district also paid $25,000 in attorneys’ fees. The motion to approve the settlement passed the Washington Elementary School District’s Governing Board 4-1. Members Jenni Abbott-Bayardi, Kyle Clayton, Lindsey M Peterson, and Nikkie Gomez-Whaley voted to approve, while Tamillia Valenzuela opposed this resolution.

ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation David Cortman also weighed in on the settlement, stating, “By discriminating against Arizona Christian University and denying it an opportunity to participate in the student-teacher program because of its religious status and beliefs, the school district was in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention state law that protects ACU’s religious freedom. At a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists, the Washington Elementary School District board did the right thing by prioritizing the needs of elementary school children and agreeing to partner once again with ACU’s student-teachers.”

West Valley lawmaker Anthony Kern, who had been closely following this situation from the beginning, opined on the good news for ACU, tweeting, “Good news for the Constitution and religious freedom; bad news for “Cat Ears” and the rest of the Democrats on the Washington Elementary School Board. BTW – how much do the taxpayers have to pay??”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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