Andrew Kerr, DCNF
Pressure is mounting against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its controversial partnership with the San Diego Unified School District in developing an anti-Islamophobia bullying initiative that was enacted last April.
Investigative subpoenas were issued Wednesday afternoon to CAIR’s chapter in California that seek all communications and documents concerning its involvement in creating the allegedly unconstitutional initiative.
CAIR-California will need to produce the documents within 10 days, or it risks facing legal penalties for being held in contempt of court, according to the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), a religious liberty group that issued the subpoenas.
The FCDF is representing a group of concerned parents who expressed outrage that the San Diego public school system had allowed CAIR, an openly religious group that seeks to promote the Islamic faith, to influence public school curriculum in the form of an anti-bullying initiative.
The multi-year plan, developed with assistance from CAIR, called for adding Muslim holidays to staff calendars, introducing new library materials on Muslim culture, encouraging Muslim-centered high school clubs, creating “safe spaces” for Muslim students and providing staff training about Muslim culture.
Nehad Hammad, CAIR’s national executive director, testified before the National Labor Relations Board in 2016 that the distribution of materials that seek to prevent discrimination is viewed by CAIR as both a “religious and educational exercise.”
The San Diego school district’s decision to allow CAIR to influence public school policy under the guize of an anti-Islamophobia initiative is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the creation of any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” according to the FCDF.
“Allowing a radical religious organization to indoctrinate our public schoolchildren defies common sense and undermines the very history and logic of the First Amendment,” FCDF President Charles LiMandri said in a statement. “We hope these subpoenas will shine more light on SDUSD’s unconstitutional relationship with CAIR.”
The San Diego school board appeared to back away from the arrangement in July, but emails obtained by FCDF in February appear to show that the school district continued to engage with CAIR after telling the public it would no longer do so.
For its part in the continued arrangement, the San Diego public school system was ordered last week by a federal judge to hand over evidence detailing its relationship with CAIR.
A tentative hearing to shut down the anti-Islamophobic initiative for good is scheduled in April.