We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation and several parents against the State of California regarding their state-promoted model curriculum on ethnic studies that advised teachers and local school districts to have students pray to Aztec gods and recite a chant concerning African “Ashe” spirituality. On September 24, 2021 the Thomas More Society asked the California Superior Court to grant an injunction against the California Department of Education and other defendants.
In the September 24 filing, attorneys asked the Court to grant a temporary restraining order forbidding Defendants from permitting the Aztec Prayer (i.e., the “In Lak Ech Affirmation”) or “Ashe” chant (i.e., the “Ashe Affirmation”) from being used in California public schools and requiring them to direct teachers not to use them until further notice. Plaintiffs also asked that the Court issue an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued.
On January 13, 2022 the parties in this lawsuit entered into a settlement agreement. In this agreement, the California Department of Education (CDE) agreed to delete the two prayers included in their state-promoted model curriculum on ethnic studies. The document containing the prayers was accessible via hyperlink, as Chapter 5 of the model curriculum, on CDE’s website prior to this settlement. In the settlement the CDE also agreed to have all school districts, charter schools and county offices of education (Local Educational Agencies) notified that the prayers have been deleted from the model curriculum.
The provision of the Education Code concerning the model curriculum already provides that material removed from drafts of the model curriculum may not be used by school districts. As part of this settlement, the CDE also agreed to notify school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education that no model curriculum content should be used as prayer, or any other form of religious act, and any such use of the model content would contravene the CDE’s longstanding policy and guidance. Local educational agencies must keep in mind the importance of ensuring that all instruction is both constitutionally and academically appropriate.