Lawsuit alleges Pennsylvania School District Violated Parents’ Rights To Opt Students Out Of SEL Curriculum

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Nino Cambria on January 26, 2023

PHILADELPHIA, PA – According to a lawsuit filed Wednesday, a Pennsylvania school district violated parents’ rights by refusing to allow their children to opt out of a Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program.

A conservative legal group, America First Legal (AFL), filed the lawsuit against West Shore School District near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the parents. Parents claim they were repeatedly denied an exemption from the curriculum because of conflicts with their Christian beliefs.

In one case cited in the lawsuit, a parent gave the elementary school principal written notice stating that the curriculum conflicted with their child’s religious beliefs, according to court documents. The principal responded that their child would be excused.

But later that day, the superintendent reversed the principal’s decision and denied the request, saying the parents had not “Identified specific instruction within the curriculum, which conflicts with [her] religious beliefs,” according to court documents.

America First Legal is SUING a Pennsylvania school district for illegally denying lawful opt-out requests from concerned parents regarding a radical and invasive curriculum for children.

Read more now: https://t.co/0i5Ml21pMK pic.twitter.com/pF7yikUIUJ

— America First Legal (@America1stLegal) January 26, 2023

The district’s SEL curriculum, “CharacterStrong,” aims to teach students to learn “the value of empathy, service, and connection,” according to the West Shore School District website. The site describes the curriculum as “more than a set of lessons – it is a partnership between schools and families to create a place where students feel like they belong and learn skills that will help them be the best they can be!”

Critics of SEL believe the focus on compassion and empathy is just a cover for introducing ideas linked to Critical Race Theory (CRT), like systemic racism and white privilege. Other parents across the country have been suing school districts over similar complaints about CRT and similar controversial curriculum.

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“Under Pennsylvania Code, parents have the right to excuse their children from specific instruction that conflicts with their religious beliefs,” the AFL argues on their website.

“By not allowing them to opt-out their children from objectionable curriculum and materials that violate their religious beliefs, the West Shore School District has violated the constitutional and statutory rights of our clients, despite its unambiguous obligations under the law,” AFL senior adviser Ian Prior said in a statement.

The West Shore School District did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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