A Virginia circuit judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by five families who alleged the Albemarle County school system was racially discriminating against students as part of an anti-racism policy that identifies white, Christian students as part of an oppressive “dominant culture.”
In a hearing Friday morning, Circuit Judge Claude Worrell dismissed the civil suit, saying there is no proof that anyone has been harmed by the district’s anti-racism policy, and that schools cannot be expected to create individualized education plans to protect students from feeling uncomfortable in class.
David Cortman, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, called the judge’s ruling “disappointing,” but vowed to appeal. “The case is not over,” Cortman said in a prepared statement. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
“Every student deserves to be treated equally under the law, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or religion,” Cortman said. “Public schools cannot attack or demean students based on these, or any other, characteristics.”
The lawsuit against the Albemarle County School Board was filed in December.
According to the lawsuit: the Charlottesville-area school board adopted an anti-racism policy in 2019, and launched an anti-racism pilot program last spring at an area middle school. Students were instructed to “view everyone and everything through a distorted racial lens.” The program classified students by race, and labeled people as “perpetually privileged oppressors” or as the “perpetually victimized” oppressed. White, Christian students were taught that they were members of the “dominant culture” that oppresses “subordinate” students of color and non-Christians.
English teachers were instructed to focus on students’ whiteness and white privilege, and the schools started using social studies books that instructed students to view history through a critical theory lens, according to court documents.
The instruction “is designed to indoctrinate students in ‘anti-racism’ ideology, which actually promotes racism,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs argued that the board’s anti-racism policy violates the Virginia Constitution, and students’ rights to be free from government discrimination based on race, color, sex, or religion, and their rights to free speech. They also argued the policy violates parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s upbringing and education.
This lawsuits filed on behalf of Albemarle parents is one of two that the Alliance Defending Freedom has brought against the school board. Last week the organization filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Albemarle elementary school assistant principal, who claims she was the victim of intense harassment and subjected to a hostile work environment for expressing concerns about the district’s anti-racism policy.