Family
June 10, 2024

California Teachers Forced to Lie Seek to Add Parents, Educators, and School District in Class Action Pursuit

California Teachers Forced to Lie Seek to Add Parents, Educators, and School District in Class Action Pursuit

June 10, 2024
Family
June 10, 2024

California Teachers Forced to Lie Seek to Add Parents, Educators, and School District in Class Action Pursuit

Thomas More Society Attorneys Call for Class-Wide Relief Against Illegal “Parental Exclusion Policies”

(June 10, 2024 – San Diego, California) Thomas More Society attorneys representing California teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, asked the federal court to allow additional teachers, parents, and a school district, to be part of a proposed class-action lawsuit. The motion, filed June 7, 2024, asked United States District Judge Roger Benitez to permit the attorneys to include additional plaintiffs as representatives seeking class-wide relief in Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al. The lawsuit, originally brought by two Escondido Union School District teachers against their California school and state officials, challenges the school district policy that illegally required them to lie to parents about their students’ gender dysphoria.

Thomas More Society attorneys are asking the court to allow the addition of two sets of parents—John and Jane Doe, and John and Jane Poe. As parents of gender incongruent middle school-age children, they have been harmed by “Parental Exclusion Policies” similar to those issued by the Escondido Union School District, which originally gave rise to the lawsuit. The filing also requests the addition of two more Escondido Union School District teachers, Jane Roe and Jane Boe, who, like Mirabelli and West, object on both religious and moral grounds to complying with the district’s “Parental Exclusion Policies.”

The court is also being asked to allow the addition of a school district-plaintiff, Lakeside Union School District, as it seeks declaratory relief so that it can pass policies that allow for parental notification, without adverse legal action by state officials. California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the state’s Department of Education have sued other school districts—namely, Chino Valley Unified School District and the Rocklin Unified School District—for enacting similar policies.

Mirabelli and West have faced severe harassment and retaliation since the lawsuit was originally filed in April 2023. For that reason, the new individual plaintiffs in this case are requesting to proceed under pseudonyms. The current request also seeks to add Title VII employment discrimination claims to the case, as a result of the Escondido Union School District’s retaliation against teacher Lori Ann West in the wake of the original lawsuit.

Paul Jonna, Thomas More Society Special Counsel and Partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP, stated:

“Last September, our clients obtained a groundbreaking federal Preliminary Injunction—preventing the state and a local school district from enforcing ‘Parental Exclusion Policies’ against our clients, on the grounds that such policies likely violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Benitez labeled ‘Parental Exclusion Policies’ as ‘a trifecta of harm’—harming children, parents, and teachers. The court specifically rejected the state’s arguments, grounded in state law, and held that federal constitutional rights prohibit enforcement of such policies. Instead of understanding the implications of this ruling and coming into compliance with the law, the state has instead interpreted the ruling narrowly and doubled down on its losing position. Despite the clarity in the law brought by this federal preliminary injunction, California Attorney General Rob Bonta has ignored it, and even prosecuted school districts that sought to come into compliance with the reasoning of this court’s order. In open defiance of the court’s order, state officials have sued or threatened to sue school districts that chose to follow the natural and logical implication of the court’s order—in every case in a state court, relying on state law arguments that were rejected in this federal lawsuit. As a result, on behalf of multiple clients that have approached us for legal representation, we now seek to expand the reach of this decision by adding additional teachers, parents, and a school district as plaintiffs in a proposed class action. Our clients hope to put this issue to rest once and for all—by obtaining class-wide relief on behalf of similarly situated teachers, parents, and school districts.”

Read the Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint and Proceed Pseudonymously, filed June 7, 2024, on behalf of teachers Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West, by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, in Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al., here.

Read the Proposed Second Amended Class Action Complaint, filed as Exhibit 1 to the Motion for Leave to Amend, by Thomas More Society attorneys in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, in Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al., here.

Read more about Thomas More Society’s work to protect children, parents, teachers, in Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al., here.

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