The parents of a Jesuit High School student have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the suburban Sacramento institution, alleging that their son’s objections to teaching critical race theory led to him being labeled a “bigot” and his forced withdrawal from school.
The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in federal court in Sacramento, identifies the student only as “A.P.,” a 17-year-old Mexican-American student with attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome and dyslexia.
The suit says the dispute began after a June 23 letter signed by five students was distributed at the school advocating for “fundamental changes in various aspects of the school’s curriculum, policies and culture,” including the teaching of critical race theory.
“Teaching CRT has been banned outright in a number of states, and anti-CRT legislation is pending in other state across the country,” the suit says, labeling the decades-old teaching subject “highly controversial.”
“The letter was read in classes, distributed to the student body, and students were asked to add their signatures to the letter in a show of support,” the lawsuit says. It was not distributed to parents.
“Students were asked in class what they thought of the June 23 Letter, and A.P. shot off saying he thought it was ‘retarded.’ The teacher quickly reminded A.P. that ‘we are careful with our words.’ Nothing else was said, and no discipline was imposed.”
The suit concedes that the student’s use of the term was “inappropriate,” but says it was a “slang to express criticism of the letter,” not an attack on someone with “intellectual disability.”
Weeks later, a Jesuit dean, LaRoddric Theodule, confronted A.P. and told him another student had accused him of using a racial slur for an African American. The student said he also called another student a homosexual slur, the suit says.
“Initially, A.P. was uncertain what Dean Theodule was talking about, but when he realized it was the event two weeks prior and had a moment to think about it, he acknowledged that he another student had jokingly called each other” (a gay slur), the suit says. “(The other student was ordered to write a letter of apology to the coach, and the matter was dropped.)
“When asked about the racial slur, A.P. was adamant that he had never directed the term at or used it to refer to a person.”
Despite that, A.P. was told not to attend classes on May 5 and a week later appeared before a disciplinary board, the suit says.
“It was conducted via zoom and consisted of A.P. being interrogated non-stop for an hour and 20 minutes by three school administrators, and eventually being reduced to tears,” the suit says. “He admitted and apologized profusely for using the term ‘fag,’ even as a joke with his friend.
“He again adamantly denied directing the (slur) at or using it to refer to a person. Withstanding a hostile cross-examination by multiple persons for that long would be a challenge for most resilient adults to manage; subjecting a teenager with ADHD and dyslexia to such an ordeal was abusive and discriminatory.”
The suit, filed by San Francisco attorney Elizabeth Thompson, claims the principal became angry during the session, that Wood “planted his fists on the table, stared into the camera and declaimed: ‘Your sin is racism. You are a racist and a bigot!’
The next day, the principal called A.P.’s parents and told them their son “would not be allowed to continue attending JHS” and would have his transcript given a notation of “withdrawn – discipline.”
The suit says A.P’s treatment by Jesuit is “endangering his college prospects” and has caused “extreme and enduring emotional distress” that has led to A.P. seeking counseling.
The above comes from a July 30 story by The Sacramento Bee.