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By Ed Sibby

AFTER MORE THAN eight months of unrest and community division, students, parents, educators and Temecula Valley Educators Association (TVEA) filed suit against the school board majority that injected culture wars and chaos into an award-winning school district.

Under the guidance of nonprofit legal organization Public Counsel, TVEA joined with Temecula Valley parents, students and individual teachers in a lawsuit against Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) in early August. They believe the school board violated the law in adopting its resolution in December 2022 banning the teaching of race-related topics.

“TVEA joined the lawsuit to guard against the negative impacts to Temecula students and educators in the classroom,” said Edgar Díaz, TVEA president. “In the months following the resolution’s implementation, we’ve seen its broad and vague language used as a weapon against educators. Educators are identified and harassed on social media and classroom voicemails with horrible accusations that go against the nature of our service to the students of Temecula.”

Diaz noted that TVUSD’s current board majority has created a chilling atmosphere where teachers’ choosing the “wrong” book results in being removed from the classroom. “Teachers have had their reputations irreparably harmed — one for incorporating a school library book in a project, others for serving as student advisors to clubs and guiding students to focus on school attendance while balancing students’ First Amendment rights,” he said. “The inability to facilitate academic discussions based on student ideas is causing educators to worry about discipline and their jobs.”

Educator thoughts of reprisal are constant and palpable, according to Dawn Murray-Sibby, a high school teacher, TVEA member and one of the plaintiffs in the case: “This ban has created a climate of fear in our
classrooms, and it is preventing my students from learning about the history and diversity of our nation. I’m proud to be a plaintiff in this
case to fight for my students, who deserve an education not censored by board members’ ideological beliefs.”

At the heart of the decision to participate in the lawsuit is what TVEA, comprised of 1,300 members, believes is best for both students and members to provide the stellar education for which TVUSD is known. TVEA believes the school board’s priorities are misguided and illegal, and it is students, parents and educators who are impacted the most.

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