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MVLA faces lawsuit seeking records about ethnic studies program

Original post made on Jul 21, 2023

A Maryland-based legal group is suing the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District aiming to get the district to turn over records related to its ethnic studies program.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 20, 2023, 1:39 PM

Comments (5)

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 21, 2023 at 12:24 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

What a horrible world we live in. Students increase their compassion and empathy for "the other" when they have an opportunity to learn about and understand the challenges and circumstances faced by others. Increased compassion and empathy for others is a Good Thing.

"In an interview, Deborah Project Legal Director Lori Lowenthal Marcus said that she doesn't currently have evidence that the school district is teaching material that The Deborah Project would consider antisemitic or otherwise objectionable, but that some parents had concerns about the curriculum and this is what the group hopes to determine through the documents it seeks."

This group has NO EVIDENCE that anything is amiss here, yet they file a lawsuit and want the district to cover THEIR legal costs? Shame, shame, shame on The Deborah Project.

From the article in the Town Crier:

"“As a Jewish person and the staff adviser for the Jewish Student Union at MVHS, the only time Jewish identity ever came up was when I brought it up as a part of my own identity,” he said. “My colleagues have been incredibly supportive of the importance of Jewish identity in the ethnic studies class. It was a little bit surprising that this was the accusation leveled at the trainings and the course, because it was the furthest thing from my mind as a Jewish educator that that was going to be the problem.”

Meyer also asserted that the curriculum contains no antisemitic material.

“We at MVLA do not have any antisemitic content nor references to anything resembling antisemitism,” Meyer wrote in an email to the Town Crier. “In fact, the purpose of our new course is to increase respect for the diverse populations we serve. We welcome a continued thorough review of our course; our board has reviewed the units created by our teacher teams and has provided information in an ongoing fashion throughout the writing and approval process.”"

I stand with the MVLA school board on this matter.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 14, 2023 at 1:08 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Leslie of my neighborhood - perhaps you should read the legal (court) document. This is (was) a legal fight by the MVLA Administration to avoid and apparently(?) subvert the intent of the state Public Records Act. No excuse. "14 weeks" for a Public Records Act first reply? The Administrators with do not know their legal responsibilities - of have chosen to 'stonewall' this special interest Jewish group.

They (the Deborah Project) just requested a fairly clear set of public documents.

The MVLA needs to comply. They didn't follow the law, when they either refused OR 'neglected' to both reply and provide public documents. Shame on them (the MVLA administrators).

Public Employee Evaluation, MVLA Superintendent; failed to do the job, failed to insure the district office employees complied with our open records laws - caused the MVLA to waste public educational money on a nonsense circle-the-wagons defense of our public school curriculum development and adoption.

Public Information Request, once the legal dust settlement is finished - how much did this case COST the school district? :) can't find that out on an ongoing unsettled legal case :)

Posted by Leslie Bain
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 15, 2023 at 2:42 pm

Leslie Bain is a registered user.

@Steven, thank you for reminding us that legal maneuvers can be brandished like weapons by those with their own motives and agenda. Did you know that frivolous lawsuits are filed every day?

“The Deborah Project's website shows that it has filed at least two other lawsuits related to ethnic studies programs in California, one in Hayward and the other in Los Angeles.”

This OUT-OF-STATE non-profit is intensely interested in the content of ethnic studies programs in CA. MV became a target of interest to them for one reason alone: we took steps to create an ethnic studies program. I understand their interest, but I also find it sad when “no good deed goes unpunished”.

They filed an open records request even though THEY HAVE NO EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING, which is their right under CA law but it comes at a cost. Time and energy must be spent by the district to find all documents related to keywords of interest to this group, time and energy that could otherwise be spent on matters of importance to teaching students in Mountain View. The law requires that such records be turned over within 10 days. Consider what this actually involves. Is there a centralized archive of such documents, that some specialist can easily search against? No. Does some specialist even exist on staff for this purpose? No. Does the district issue an order to each and every overworked teacher associated with creation of the new program to search their own file systems in their infinite spare time, hah!, for drafts of documents that might comply? What happens if a teacher accidentally overlooks something? Is the district legally liable for that? Is the teacher legally liable?

During a legal battle there are actions and counter-actions. If a counter-action makes one legally vulnerable, an expert would advise against it. Unless you have intimate awareness of the legal strategy of the district, I find it grossly unfair for you to assume that the district is choosing to "stonewall" this group.

Posted by Reggie
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 8, 2023 at 2:10 pm

Reggie is a registered user.

I fear you minimize reasons for why the Deborah project is interested in the ethnic studies case.

It was not reported in the Mountain View Voice as I recall, but both the Los Alto Town Crier and the Los Alto High Talon newspaper reported on the MVLA High School district firing their consultant "Acosta Educational Partnership" who had been hired to train MVLA ethnic studies teachers.

See Web Link and Web Link

"Amid the public outcry, MVLA opted to terminate its $45,000 contract with AEP last week. The district has not publicly announced the decision, but board president Phil Faillace wrote in an email to the Town Crier that “MVLA has acknowledged having received services from AEP and is making a final payment to them.” Faillace would not comment on whether the move marked a premature end to MVLA and AEP’s relationship, but AEP founder Curtis Acosta confirmed that MVLA ended the contract.

The allegations of antisemitism mainly stem from AEP’s association with Samia Shoman, a San Mateo-based educator who served on the state’s advisory committee for the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum draft created in 2019 that was publicly panned by Jewish groups for containing anti-Zionist material. Gov. Gavin Newsom ultimately vetoed the draft, calling it offensive."

If you do some research on "Liberated Sthnic Studies" Web Link (of which Shoman and Acosta Educational Partnership profess to support) you'll see why the Deborah Project has reason for concern about what is going into the Ethnic Studies curriculum.

The stonewalling by MVLA District employees only exacerbates reasonable suspicion by the Deborah Project after such a history (abrupt firing of consultant, refusal to discuss what consultant provided).

Posted by Jessica Chau
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 10, 2023 at 3:17 pm

Jessica Chau is a registered user.

Chinese/Mandarin and East Indian parents are also watching the development of this issue because their cultural heritage and history is being under-represented in ethnic studies.

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