Surveillance continued to escalate this week around the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium after a group of Jewish parents and teachers in Los Angeles filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of the Civil Rights Act and the American Constitution.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court, targets the controversial counseling group — which has come under fire from Jewish community organizations in recent months — its core members, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the school district. Los Angeles Unified. (The district is named as the “nominal defendant” but not as the liable party.)
The lawsuit represents the latest development in an ongoing saga surrounding the nonprofit counseling organization, which formed amid wrangling over California’s ethnic studies curriculum model as the state moved to require that the subject be taught in high schools. Liberated aims to help schools implement a curriculum that they believe is more genuinely radical and anti-racist than that developed by the California Department of Education.
Still, the band faced headwinds. Earlier this week, Napa Valley Schools told J. that after approving a contract with Liberated worth $38,000, the school district decided not to move forward with the arrangement. . In January, the Castro Valley School Board saw a dozen objections raised by members of the Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League to a contract with the group, stemming from harsh anti-Israel statements (since suppressed) on the Liberated website. The school district still approved a lucrative contract with the group.
Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit allege violations of federal anti-discrimination protections and state laws, including one enacted last year that states that ethnic studies must not “directly or indirectly” promote bias against any religious group or a nationality.
Liberated’s program contains “rank discrimination,” according to the complaint, “against Israelis and Jews from the Middle East and the United States.”
The lawsuit was filed by lawyers Judicial monitoringa DC-based conservative activist group, and the Deborah projecta law firm founded by Harvard law professor Jesse Fried that provides free legal assistance to people discriminated against “either because they are Jewish and/or pro-Israel.”
“Seeking to use California’s public education system to indoctrinate students with hatred and lies about certain ethnicities is neither acceptable nor legal in California, even when those seeking to do so sincerely believe that their own ethnicities have been deeply wronged in the past,” Lori wrote. Lowenthal Marcus of the Deborah Project in a statement to J.
The five plaintiffs are described as “Jewish Zionist teachers from Los Angeles who teach at LAUSD and Jewish Zionist parents of children who study at LAUSD”. They are listed as John and Jane Does.
In 55 pages, the complaint lays out a worldview it says is supported by Liberated, which unfairly demonizes Israel, unduly focuses criticism on the Jewish state, downplays Israel in Jewish tradition and attempts to conceal its agendas anti-Israelis in public view.
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For Liberated, the complaint alleges: “Zionism and the Jewish state, Israel, are evil, the Israelis are oppressive and genocidal land grabbers…Israel has no right to exist as a nation-state of the world. Jewish people; and the Jewish people have no right to their own nation-state.
As key evidence, the complaint points to a webpage taken from Liberated’s website titled “Preparing to Teach Palestine: A Toolkit.” The webpage has since been taken down, which the lawsuit holds as evidence that Liberated concealed material in violation of public disclosure laws.
The webpage is an introduction to how to teach Palestine in the classroom and avoid backlash from pro-Israel organizations. “Be strategic! he advises, suggesting that white teachers, for example, consider using their racial privilege to “take more risks.”
The page recommends mainstreaming Palestinian issues into school lessons ‘so it’s not a multicultural add-on’, for example, comparing Israeli treatment of Palestinians to ‘colonial control’ over border water Mexican-American, comparing “forced evictions in your city and East Jerusalem”, and comparing manifest destiny to the promised land.
“Next, make sure you can justify your program with your state’s standards,” the page adds.
The leadership of the Libérée coalition did not respond to a request for comment. The nonprofit counseling organization has won support from the Los Angeles teachers’ union and the Castro Valley and Hayward school boards.
The plaintiffs allege violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment’s right to free exercise of religion, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. They also allege multiple violations of state law, including those championed by members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus as “guardrails” inserted into the state’s new ethnic studies law.
The lawsuit asks a judge to find that Liberated’s use of anti-Israel material violates the plaintiffs’ rights. It also asks the judge to prohibit district schools from teaching, for example, that “Zionism is not a Jewish belief” or that “the State of Israel, as a nation-state of the people Jew, is illegitimate”.
The case was assigned to Judge Fernando M. Olguin. The full complaint can be viewed here.