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Source: Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD)
Facing allegations of unfair contracting practices by Fair Education Santa Barbara (FESB) stemming from a lawsuit filed in 2018, a three-justice panel unanimously upheld the position of both the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) and Just Communities Central Coast (JCCC) following a hearing in appellate court last week.
The lawsuit challenged the voluntary implicit bias training for teachers and students provided by JCCC, claiming it was a “radical” attempt to “indoctrinate” staff and students. In rejecting that assertion, the Superior Court wrote:
“SBUSD’s express purpose in deciding to provide anti-bias training was as a means of eradicating the persistent educational achievement gap among minority students. This is clearly a lawful purpose which is reasonably characterized as incidental to a valid educational purpose.”
FESB also alleged that the district’s selection of JCCC to provide the training needed to be based on lowest bid, rather than based upon quality and reputation. The 21-page decision of the appellate panel roundly rejected that claim and upheld the earlier Superior Court decision in favor of the district and JCCC.
For the full court decision, please click here to download the PDF (or click the link below).
For the school district, it's a victory to celebrate, but also comes with more work to do, according to SBUSD Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado.
“Our school district teachers and leaders will continue the work on closing achievement gaps, improving academics and addressing the social and emotional needs of all students, especially the most vulnerable," said Maldonado. "I am proud of this decision which recognizes the expertise of our educators’ decisions who know what’s best for students.”
SBUSD legal counsel Craig Price stated that with the litigation having come to an end, he hopes FESB supporters will now work in collaboration with the district in the effort to maximize educational outcomes for all students.
For JCCC, it can't wait to get back to work on issues such as equity and inclusivity in school.
"Just Communities is incredibly thankful over the Court of Appeal's decision. This decision, and the previous others that were ruled in our favor, continue to affirm that our work to envision and create an equitable and inclusive Central Coast is worth fighting for," said Melissa G. Patrino, executive director of Just Communities. "We are thankful for the countless number of people in our community who supported and continue to support us to this day."
Rose Muñoz, the newly elected SBUSD board president, echoed Patrino's sentiments, saying that the lawsuit "interrupted crucial equity work."
"This case was not really about a group that had an issue with the contracting process, but instead an attempt to sidetrack and interrupt the crucial equity work that is needed in order to transform the education system," Muñoz said. "This case was worth fighting for because to us it was always about the people in the system, not the contract process, and our people are always worth fighting for.”
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