Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a law that allows parents to opt their children out of any specific instruction that conflicts with their religious beliefs.
Some parents objected to a specific instruction called CharacterStrong, which includes a component called Social Emotional Learning (SEL) for K-8, which could conflict with the values parents teach at home.
One parent submitted a written request to opt her child out. The school principal approved it, but the superintendent of the West Shore School District reversed it. The superintendent also denied other parents’ requests. The parents filed a lawsuit. America First Legal, their legal counsel, announced that the parties have settled the lawsuit.
As part of the settlement, the West Shore School District admitted that denying the opt-out requests violated the U.S. Constitution, state law, and school board policy. The children are now opted out of SEL, and the district will pay $40,000 in attorneys fees and costs.
“Schools can’t treat parents differently because of the parent’s religious beliefs,” said Nick Barry, America First Legal Senior Counsel. “Pennslyvania protects parent’s religious beliefs and allows them to opt their children out of SEL curriculum. School bureaucrats are now on notice that they can’t ignore parents’ requests because it might create some administrative difficulty or because they disagree with a parent’s religious beliefs.”
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