A private Christian school in California is facing an ongoing legal battle with a local school district over what the school’s attorneys say is at least partly due to religious discrimination.
The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) has served Ventura County Christian School (VCCS) with a notice to vacate its property following a delayed start to the school year in August after the district claimed the property was unsafe.
Attorney Ron Bamieh, one of the lawyers hired to represent VCCS, told The Christian Post via email that VUSD officials informed VCCS on Aug. 19 that its Washington School location — which houses VCCS — was unsafe, just three days before the start of the new school year.
District officials say the decision was made after a seismic evaluation report found that the century-old building “poses significant risk of harm in the event of a natural disaster or earthquake.”
“We cannot and will not compromise the safety of students, families, community members or staff members, whether they are in a building or property owned by the District, or leased by the District to another entity,” the district said in a statement provided to CP.
According to Bamieh, prior to entering into a new lease, VUSD wanted to perform another safety analysis on the Washington School location. Once that analysis was completed, VCCS and VUSD agreed on a two-year lease.
Over the past year, VCCS and VUSD have been negotiating new lease terms.
But when the district sent over the new lease agreement for VCCS’s signature, the school’s officials “saw a sentence in that lease that could be interpreted as preventing VCCS from hiring Christian-only teachers or preventing the teaching of a Christian-based curriculum,” Bamieh said.
Although the school was initially “confused” by that specific sentence in the agreement, VCCS “believed it was a misunderstanding” and requested that the school district remove the sentence from the lease, according to Bamieh.
All the other terms of the lease were agreed upon by VCCS and VUSD, Bamieh said, adding, “VUSD acted like they also believed they had an agreement with VCCS and accepted payment according to the new lease terms.”
Days later, VUSD informed VCCS that the school was unsafe and that they need to vacate the premises.
But Bamieh believes VUSD is being disingenuous about its true intentions, one of which includes addressing what he calls a “severe problem with declining enrollment.”
But it’s the potentially anti-Christian sentiment behind the move that might be the most troubling, said Bamieh.
Full story at Christian Post.