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Despite Federal Ruling, CA Threatens Rocklin Schools Over Parent Notification Policy

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Even though a federal court ruled last September that a southern California school district should not keep students' gender confusion a secret from parents, the California Department of Education (CDE) has told the Rocklin Unified School District (RUSD) it must not implement its parent notification policy. 

As CBN News reported last September, the RUSD voted in favor of a policy that will require teachers to notify parents if their child changes their gender identification. The school board voted 4-1 on a regulation that orders schools to contact parents within three school days if their child requests to use a name, pronouns, or sex-segregated facilities "that do not align with the child's biological sex."

According to the policy, a student's gender identity will remain confidential to everyone "except the student and their parent(s)."

However, the CDE released a report on Feb. 1 claiming the district's notification policy violated the state education code against discrimination. 

According to the CDE, if the district doesn't take corrective action, the state will take action under Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5 § 4670, which permits "the withholding of all or part of the local agency's relevant state or federal support." In addition, the report instructs the district superintendent to notify all of the school personnel and students that the policy will not be implemented. 

The CDE issued its report despite a federal judge ruling against the CDE lawyers' discrimination and student privacy arguments last September. The state tried to convince the court that forcing teachers in a San Diego County school district to lie to parents was legal, according to the California Family Council. The court disagreed.

In that case, Mirabelli v. Olson, a federal court issued a groundbreaking 36-page order blocking the Escondido Union School District and CDE officials from enforcing gender secrecy policies for the "trifecta of harm" it causes to teachers, children, and their parents. 

With the federal court ruling seemingly on their side, the RUSD board members have refused to comply with the CDE order, voting 4-1 to officially appeal the decision. None of the board members were contacted or asked any questions in the CDE investigation, according to the California Family Council. 

slider img 2As CBN News reported earlier this month, two San Diego, California-area Christian teachers also filed an amended lawsuit in a federal court naming Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Attorney General Rob Bonta among other defendants, alleging the educators were forced to lie to parents and hide students' gender confusion.

Attorneys with the Thomas More Society representing Elizabeth Mirabelli and Lori Ann West originally filed Mirabelli, et al. v. Olson, et al. last year. In addition to Newsom and Bonta, other defendants in the lawsuit include the officials of the Escondido Union School District, California Department of Education, California State Board of Education, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Rincon Middle School, where both teachers are on staff.

The complaint alleges the teachers were being compelled to deceive parents about their students' gender dysphoria because of a policy mandated on school districts by state politicians. 

The teachers argued the "secrecy policy" infringed on their First Amendment Free Speech and Free Exercise of religious rights, and if they were to comply and be dishonest with parents it would violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Thomas More Society Special Counsel and Partner, LiMandri and Jonna LLP attorney Paul Jonna said the CDE's actions fly in the face of the federal court's Preliminary Injunction order. 

"In Mirabelli v. Olson, the CDE officials argued at the preliminary injunction hearing that they were not proper parties because, as their attorney said, 'the plaintiffs have not pointed to one instance where there's been a loss of funding from a local school district or there's any kind of repercussions from not following these FAQ's,'" Jonna said. 

"That argument failed then, and now the CDE apparently feels free to exercise that authority. But we intend to hold the CDE and other state officials fully accountable for their attempts to blatantly disregard the rationale and reasoning of the federal court's Preliminary Injunction order in Mirabelli v. Olson," he said. 

Dean Broyles, president of the National Center for Law & Policy, called out the CDE's "sham secret 'investigation'" of RUSD. 

"The California Department of Education is far out on a legal limb that is being rapidly sawed off," Broyles said. He criticized State Superintendent Tony Thurmond for conducting what he called a "sham secret 'investigation'" of RUSD and threatening to defund the district. 

He argued that the RUSD's policy aligns with the federal court's findings in Mirabelli "in spite of Attorney General Rob Bonta's specious allegations of discrimination, privacy, and equal protection, parental notification is actually mandated by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment and well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent." 

Angela Morabito, a spokesperson for the Defense of Freedom Institute (DFI) and former press secretary for the U.S. Department of Education, told KMPH-TV the demands to "keep parents in the dark" are "no surprise."

"Schools have no right to keep parents in the dark when a child rejects his or her biological sex," Morabito said. "If the school nurse must notify parents before giving their child an Advil, school staff should absolutely notify parents before calling their child a different name and allowing them to use a different locker room."

RUSD is one of at least six California districts to pass a parental notification policy last year. As CBN News reported, the first school district to approve the practice, the Chino Valley Unified School District, was sued by the state's attorney general in August.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of