San Diego school officials insist they have ended their partnership with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to combat bullying and "Islamophobia" among students, but five families who have filed suit over the program contend they have evidence the initiative continues through an informal relationship with the controversial Muslim group.
The families filed a motion in the case Tuesday asking for a temporary order to halt the initiative and the San Diego Unified School District's partnership with CAIR, a group founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to FBI evidence presented in a Hamas-funding case in which CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which is representing the families,
cited documents obtained in a public-records request that show district officials, including Superintendent Cynthia Marten, met with CAIR officials to continue the relationship informally on the same day the board voted to end it last summer.
As WND reported, the families filed suit in May 2017 against the "anti-Islamophobia" campaign, which was launched the previous month featuring curriculum and materials published by CAIR. FCDF later revised its complaint to focus on CAIR's radical Islamic origin. The complaint asserted the school district's partnership with CAIR violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and California law. Last week, WND reported, a federal judge objected to a reference to CAIR's terrorist ties in the complaint, saying it was "impertinent, immaterial and scandalous," designed only to "inflame the public."
The program, the families argued, singled out Muslim students for special accommodations and called for changes to school curricula to make it more favorable to Islam. It also allowed CAIR officials into classrooms to teach students about Islam and "how to be allies" to Muslim students.
The district purchased thousands of dollars of CAIR's recommended teaching materials, which were then distributed to the schools.
The board officially voted to end the initiative at a July 2017 meeting, adopting a new policy that focuses on protecting all students. But the newly obtained documents show the relationship continues, FCDF said.
Along with the families, the plaintiffs in the suit include two local organizations, Citizens for Quality Education San Diego and the San Diego Asian Americans for Equality Foundation.
FCDF's brief argues that the "anti-Islamophobia initiative" considers "it is a far graver sin for a bully to tug on a Muslim student's hijab than it is to knock off a Jewish student's kippah."
It charges the district has chosen "to politicize the schoolchildren entrusted to their care rather than cut ties with a notorious sectarian association."
The brief says the district's claim that the campaign is meant to protect all students from bullying is "Orwellian," because, to echo Orwell's "Animal Farm," the program effectively amounts to "all students are equal, but some students are more equal than others."
'Not divided by race or religion'
Charles LiMandri, FCDF's president and chief counsel, said the San Diego United School District is one of the most diverse in America, but "our nation is not divided by race or religion but united by the sacred principles enshrined in the Constitution."
"Among these principles are government neutrality in religion and the right of every American, including schoolchildren, to equality under the law. Unfortunately, this politically correct 'anti-Islamophobia initiative' runs roughshod over those principles."
The brief filed Tuesday states that "despite public statements to the contrary," the district has strengthened its partnership with CAIR.
"CAIR's religious agenda is irrefutable; its divisiveness is undeniable. And strikingly, it prowls the schools not as a wolf in sheep's clothing — in Justice Scalia's words, 'this wolf comes as a wolf.' Yet the wool is not being pulled over Defendants' eyes."
LiMandri said the district "has a constitutional obligation to keep divisive forces like CAIR outside of its schools."
He noted that CAIR officials have testified that they have a religious obligation to try to convert schoolchildren to Islam.
FBI cut off relationship with CAIR
The FBI has provided an abundance of evidence that CAIR is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch, Hamas. And even a Persian Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, has designated the Washington, D.C.-based organization a terrorist group, putting it in the same category as al-Qaida and ISIS.
The complaint points out that the FBI cut off non-investigative contact with CAIR in 2008. The bureau, at the time, explained that "until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an appropriate liaison partner."
The FBI's evidence of CAIR's ties to Hamas was presented in a Hamas-funding case in which CAIR was named an unindicted co-conspirator. CAIR has sued the authors of a WND Books exposé, "Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America," which documented the group's radical ties.
The bureau's non-contact policy remains in effect, FCDF points out, which is relevant because CAIR has made "prioritized public schools as ground zero to advance its religious mission."
The school district, in effect, gave "a divisive religious group ... unprecedented decision-making authority" in a public school program.
But last week U.S. District Judge Cynthia Bashant argued that CAIR's relationship with Hamas, "whether true or not," predates its work with the school district and is "superfluous historical allegations that should be stricken," reported IPT.
The judge did, however, preserve provisions in FCDF's amended complaint concerning CAIR's hostility to Israel and allegations it "promotes discriminatory bias against non-Muslim students on the basis of their religion."
The judge said that while these assertions may be "distasteful" and "unsavory," those provisions could call into question the "objectivity and accuracy" of CAIR-provided instructional materials.
As WND reported, when the San Diego school board partnered with CAIR, it touted it as an organization that "has been involved in constructive civic engagement, promotes cultural tolerance and understanding, as well as justice and equality."
CAIR's San Diego director told the school board in April his organization wanted the district's program to become a national model.
"The plan itself is a great first step," he said. "I truly believe that if we do this right, San Diego Unified School District would be the leading school district in the nation to come up with a robust and beautiful anti-bullying and anti-Islamophobia program."
'The true faith, Islam'
The influence of Islam in public schools has become a nationwide issue.
In May, in Groesbeck, Texas, a couple moved their sixth-grade daughter to a new school after they discovered her history homework assignment on Islam.
In late March, as WND reported, a middle school in Chatham, New Jersey, was using a cartoon video to teach the Five Pillars of Islam to seventh-grade students, prompting two parents to obtain legal services to fight the school district, which has ignored their concerns.
WND also reported in March a high school in Frisco, Texas, has set up an Islamic prayer room specifically for Muslim students to pray on campus during school hours. The same type of prayer rooms have been set up in high schools in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and other school districts.
In 2015, parents in Tennessee asked the governor, legislature and state education department to investigate pro-Islam bias in textbooks and other materials.
WND reported in 2012 ACT for America conducted an analysis of 38 textbooks used in the sixth through 12th grades in public schools and found that since the 1990s, discussions of Islam are taking up more and more pages, while the space devoted to Judaism and Christianity has simultaneously decreased.
In 2009, Gilbert T. Sewall, director of the American Textbook Council, a group that reviews history books, told Fox News the texts were "whitewashing" Islamic extremism and key subjects such as jihad, Islamic law and the status of women.
Also in 2009, WND reported the middle school textbook "History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond," published by Teachers' Curriculum Institute, said an Islamic "jihad" is an effort by Muslims to convince "others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research."
In 2006, WND reported a school in Oregon taught Islam by having students study and learn Muslim prayers and dress as Muslims.
WND reported in 2003 a prominent Muslim leader who eventually was convicted on terror-related charges helped write the "Religious Expression in Public Schools" guidelines issued by President Bill Clinton.
In 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, seventh graders in Byron, California, were taught a three-week course on Islam that required them to learn 25 Islamic terms, 20 proverbs, Islam's Five Pillars of Faith, 10 key Islamic prophets and disciples, recite from the Quran, wear a robe during class, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own "holy war" in a dice game.
Parents went to court to uphold their right to reject the class for their children, but a federal just ruled against them, and in 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider their appeal.