Washington Elementary School District No. 6 (WESD) in Glendale terminated the contract of Arizona Christian University (ACU) to provide student teachers last month, despite an ongoing teacher shortage, citing the religious tenets of the university as the reason. In response, The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ACU on March 9, demanding multiple types of damages, including punitive.
The suit alleges a violation of the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment. It asserts that “Arizona Christian and its students do not share religious messages and beliefs within its student teacher programs with local public Schools.”
Over 100 concerned parents, educators, and others showed up at a school board meeting of Washington Elementary School District No. 6 (WESD) in Glendale to speak Thursday night, most of them upset that the school board unanimously decided that the district would no longer hire student teachers from Arizona Christian University (ACU). Newly elected School Board Member Tamillia Valenzuela, who describes herself as “witchy AF” and “queer AF,” led the effort, stating the university’s “biblically-informed” values made her feel unsafe.
Arizona State Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Glendale) released a statement Friday calling for Tamillia Valenzuela to resign from the Washington Elementary School District (WESD) Governing Board after making anti-Christian remarks during a recent meeting.
“While we’re facing a shortage of teachers, Valenzuela is impugning the motives of teachers with certain religious beliefs. This is NOT what our country was founded on,” said Kern.
An Arizona Elementary School District cut ties with a Christian University after a “witchy AF,” “queer AF,” and allegedly “disabled” school board member wearing cat ears said the university’s “biblically-informed” values made her feel unsafe.
For the past five years, the Washington Elementary School District, which serves pre-k through eighth grade students in Phoenix and Glendale, had a contract with Arizona Christian University, which allowed their student teachers to be placed in its schools for field experience, Fox News reported. The contract provided valuable opportunities for recruitment as the nation grappled with the ongoing teacher shortage.