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Arizona school board must pay $25K after cutting ties with Christian university

A woke school board cut ties with a conservative Christian school – and then had to pay to end a lawsuit

A school board that cut ties with Arizona Christian University because of concerns over the school’s belief in Biblical sexuality and marriage norms must now pay $25,000 to end a federal lawsuit.

Washington Elementary School District Governing Board must also reestablish the student teaching partnership with ACU and allow Alliance Defending Freedom to monitor the district’s practices for five years as part of the settlement.

“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 was in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention state law that protects ACU’s religious freedom,” ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation David Cortman stated in a news release.

“At a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists, the Washington Elementary School District board did the right thing by prioritizing the needs of elementary school children and agreeing to partner once again with ACU’s student-teachers,” Cortman stated.

The vote to end the 11-year partnership with the Christian university came after a “bilingual, disabled, neurodivergent queer black Latina” named Tamillia Valenzuela worked with other liberal school board members to oust the university from its schools because the university holds conservative Christian views.

“While I full-heartedly believe in the religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution,” Valenzuela said in February 2023. “My concerns […] when I go to Arizona Christian University’s website, [they are] ‘committed to Jesus Christ, accomplishing his will and advancements on earth as in Heaven.’”

Washington Elementary Governing Board President Nikkie Gomez-Whaley said at the time that other religious groups could establish ties with the district as long as it endorsed its particular views on sex and gender. The ouster was “not a rejection of any particular faith [because] we remain open to partnering with faith-based organizations that share our commitment to equity & inclusion,” Gomez-Whaley (pictured, right) said at the time.

She currently works as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Planned Parenthood in Arizona.

MORE: Conservative legal group won $1,668,200 in campus lawsuits

IMAGES: Washington Elementary School Governing Board; Tamillia Valenzuela WESD Board Member

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.