A California school district is denying a Christian school club equal access to its facility while allowing other after-school programs to meet on its grounds.
Non-profit legal group, Liberty Counsel, has sent a demand letter to Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) and its superintendent, Dr. Jason Reimann, for discriminating against Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) by not allowing its Good News Club to meet on the Fairview Elementary School campus while allowing other clubs to meet there.
Since the start of this year, CEF has requested, on three separate occasions, to resume the use of an available classroom for its club.
But HUSD has denied all three requests without explanation.
“According to the law, Good News Clubs must be given equal access as the non-religious groups on public school campuses. Equal access means equal treatment including the use of on-campus facilities, fee waivers, time of meetings, and announcements. Liberty Counsel will work to ensure this happens,” said Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver in a statement.
In August, the Liberty Counsel sent the demand letter to the school district detailing the facts, policies, and laws that prohibit the district from denying CEF use of the school’s facilities.
In the letter, the legal group asked the school district to respond by August 31, 2023, to avoid legal action.
To date, they have not responded.
HUSD previously allowed CEF to hold Good News Clubs at Fairview Elementary for several years before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of all clubs in the Spring of 2020.
Once clubs were allowed to resume, the Good News Club applied to be reinstated. However, HUSD denied the request without explanation. They also failed to respond to any correspondence from CEF.
Currently, the district is permitting other clubs such as Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run to meet directly after school on campus, according to the attorneys.
As CBN News reported, CEF reached an agreement with The Providence Public School District (PPSD) in Rhode Island earlier this summer to allow Good News Clubs in their elementary schools.
Liberty Counsel represented CEF after the school district stonewalled its Good News Club from elementary schools for two years.
“The District’s policies of unequal access and hostility to CEF Rhode Island’s religious message violate the Constitution and have denied the District’s elementary school students access to free, positive, and character-building Good News Clubs that enrich countless students’ lives in other Rhode Island school districts and throughout the country,” read that lawsuit.
The PPSD is now allowing the Good News Clubs into their schools “on the same terms” as other after-school clubs.
There are currently 3,285 Good News Clubs with approximately 2,000 of them meeting after school in public elementary and middle schools across the United States.
Liberty Counsel has represented approximately 200 CEF cases nationally and has never lost a case involving Good News Clubs, the group explains in a statement.
The Good News Clubs make a clear presentation of the Gospel to children–especially those who don’t attend church.
The voluntary clubs typically meet once per week, immediately after school, and are led by trained and vetted local community volunteers. They also provide religious and other teaching and activities to encourage learning, spiritual growth, and service to others, as well as social, emotional, character, and leadership development, according to their attorneys.
***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***