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Christian college's first hearing against AZ school district Tuesday

ADF attorneys available for media interviews following hearing

Monday, Apr 10, 2023

WHO:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys

WHAT:  Available for media interviews following oral arguments in Arizona Christian University v. Washington Elementary School District

WHEN:  Immediately following hearing, which begins at 10:30 a.m. PDT, Tuesday, April 11

WHERE:  U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, 401 W. Washington St., Courtroom 501, Phoenix. To schedule an interview, contact ADF Media Relations Specialist Jacqueline Ribeiro at (202) 961-9396.

PHOENIX – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Arizona Christian University will be available for media interviews Tuesday following oral arguments in federal district court in their lawsuit against Washington Elementary School District. The school district—the largest elementary school district in Arizona, serving Phoenix and Glendale—cut ties with the Christian university because of its religious beliefs.

For the past 11 years, Arizona Christian University and Washington Elementary School District had a mutually beneficial partnership where students in the university’s elementary educational program would student-teach and shadow teachers in the school district. The school district, however, decided it no longer wanted to partner with ACU because of the university’s religious beliefs on biblical marriage and sexuality, terminating the partnership without citing any complaint or issue regarding an ACU student or alumnus. The school district’s decision to revoke its relationship with the school because of its religious status and beliefs violates the university’s constitutionally protected freedoms.

“By discriminating against Arizona Christian University and denying it an opportunity to participate in the student teacher program because of its religious status and beliefs, the school district is in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention state law that protects ACU’s religious freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, vice president of U.S. litigation, who will be arguing before the court on behalf of ACU. “At a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists, Washington Elementary School District officials are choosing their own ideologies over the needs of elementary school children. We are urging the court to affirm the constitutionally protected freedoms of ACU and its students and reinstate ACU’s partnership with the school district.”

Through its partnership with the school district, ACU’s students were able to obtain real-world experience necessary to graduate, and the school district benefited by having additional teaching assistance. However, at a Feb. 23 school district board meeting, all five board members voted unanimously to terminate the district’s relationship with ACU because of its religious status and beliefs.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Arizona Christian University v. Washington Elementary School District, last month. In it, they explain that school district officials showed blatant hostility to ACU’s religious beliefs, questioning how one could “be committed to Jesus Christ” and yet, at the same time, respect LGBTQ students and board members. One board member even stated that the mere presence of ACU student teachers would make some students—and herself—feel “unsafe.” Another stated she was “embarrassed” that she allowed the school district’s partnership with ACU to continue for so long.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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