Compton Unified School District in California rejected the two applications for a charter school because the applicant was a church leader.
Pastor Charles Patrick of the Sunago Christian Fellowship Church has applied for the right to open a charter school in Los Angeles in what he identified as a safe area of the city. He said that his application was made by him personally and had nothing to do with the church nor would the school be affiliated with the church in any way and that he had not planned to teach religion and the school would be run under the secular guidelines of the state. Evidently that was not enough to satisfy the school district who denied his second application as they did the first.
Advocates for Faith and Freedom general counsel Robert Tyler commented on the Compton school district’s denials saying,
“A pastor is entitled to as much right under the First Amendment as any individual is, especially when they’re going to be using the funds, in this case, for secular purposes… I think that what we’re seeing here is a move toward trying to prevent any person of faith from really being involved.”
Frontier Legal Foundation has taken up Pastor Patrick’s cause and has filed a lawsuit against those involved with the denials on the grounds his Frist Amendment rights being violated. They point out that constitutional case law has shown that a religious institution is permitted by law to receive funding when the money is to be used for secular purposes including education and medical care.
For those that believe that the Establishment Clause would support the school district’s denial of Pastor Patrick’s application, the Frontier Legal Foundation says it doesn’t. The Establishment Claus was intended to protect every US citizen from being discriminated against and as such, the district’s decision fails the case-law test.
It sounds to me like the Compton Unified School District is guilty of religious discrimination, joining the ranks of other school districts, local, state and federal governments. Like I’ve asked many times before, would the school district also deny the request from a Muslim imam? I highly doubt it.
It will be interesting to watch and see if the courts uphold Pastor Patrick’s constitutional rights or will they follow the example of other California courts who are as liberal as they come, and side with the school district.