• July 21, 2024

VICTORY: America First Legal Reaches Settlement Agreement with Pennsylvania School District Allowing All Parents to Opt Out

 VICTORY: America First Legal Reaches Settlement Agreement with Pennsylvania School District Allowing All Parents to Opt Out

Photo credit: HockleyMedia/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock Images

November 10, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) announced the approval of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit it filed earlier this year for its clients against the West Shore School District in Pennsylvania for illegally subjecting children to radical and invasive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum and illegally denying lawful opt-out requests from multiple concerned parents.

SEL Programs bill themselves as programs that build emotional well-being, teach things like respect and responsibility, and are anti-bullying/anti-suicide programs. However, they often simply act as a way for schools to smuggle in topics parents would otherwise object to. Such as discussions on race, gender, oppression, abortion, religious beliefs, and many others. One of our courageous plaintiffs objected to her children being part of her school’s SEL program because it required a sharing circle where “what is said in the circle stays in the circle.” Whenever secrets are kept from parents, something inappropriate is going on, and we all have a natural revulsion to such ideas.

In the settlement agreement that was approved last night, the District has agreed that:

  • The District’s responses to Opt-Out requests were not consistent, and therefore ran afoul of the Plaintiffs’ 1st and 14th Amendment rights, violated a Pennsylvania religious liberty statute, and violated their own Board Policy 105.3.
  • Parents can opt-out their children from the District’s SEL curriculum, CharacterStrong, with a simple request to the district that identifies the SEL curriculum and states that the parent has a religious objection to it.
  • The District agreed to immediately excuse Plaintiffs’ children from all SEL instruction.
  • The District agrees that Plaintiffs’ children shall be removed from the classroom during any and all SEL instruction through grade 8. After reaching high school, if an SEL curriculum has been adopted, the teacher will provide a prompt so students can leave the classroom during the SEL instruction.
  • The District agreed to pay Plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs in the amount of $40,000.

Critically, this settlement recognizes that parents have First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to direct the upbringing of their children. The settlement also provides a clear, consistent standard for parents in Pennsylvania to opt their children out of SEL curriculum throughout the state. Social Emotional Learning—like a Trojan horse— allows all types of dangerous ideologies to secretly enter public school curriculums that could not get in through the front door. As our Nation’s schools fail to meet academic standards, they are increasingly opting to take valuable time to teach kids non-academic values that have always been specially reserved for parents to teach.

This settlement serves as a shield for parents to protect their religious values and their children from State indoctrination. America First Legal will not cease in the legal battle to protect children and parents from woke indoctrination.

Statement from Nick Barry, America First Legal Senior Counsel:

“Schools can’t treat parents differently because of the parent’s religious beliefs. Pennslyvania protects parent’s religious beliefs and allows them to opt their children out of SEL curriculum. School bureaucrats are now on notice that they can’t ignore parents’ requests because it might create some administrative difficulty or because they disagree with a parent’s religious beliefs. School boards, superintendents, and administrators must comply with the 1st and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution, along with Pennslyvania’s strong religious freedom protections. We are glad the school board here recognized their error and agreed to resolve this case.”  said Nick Barry.

Read the agreement here.

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Photo credit: HockleyMedia/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock Images

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