NewsLocal News


After lawsuit, WESD votes to enter new agreement with ACU

Posted at 3:01 PM, May 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-04 22:27:45-04

Two months after a lawsuit was filed against Washington Elementary School District, WESD's board voted to enter a new agreement with Arizona Christian University on Wednesday.

Video in the player above includes previous coverage of the lawsuit filed against WESD.

The lawsuit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys after the school district decided to end its 11-year student-teacher program with the university.

ADF claimed the school district cut ties based on religious discrimination.

During a board meeting Wednesday, four of five members voted to resolve the lawsuit. According to a news release from ADF, the resolution includes the district entering a new agreement and paying $25,000 in attorneys' fees.

“By discriminating against Arizona Christian University and denying it an opportunity to participate in the student-teacher program because of its religious status and beliefs, the school district was in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution, not to mention state law that protects ACU’s religious freedom,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of U.S. Litigation David Cortman, who argued in federal district court on behalf of ACU. “At a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists, the Washington Elementary School District board did the right thing by prioritizing the needs of elementary school children and agreeing to partner once again with ACU’s student-teachers.”

The new agreement, according to ADF's release, will be able to be renewed annually for an additional five years.

WESD sent the following statement after ADF's release:

"The Washington Elementary School District (WESD) Governing Board and Arizona Christian University (ACU) have mutually agreed to resolve their dispute. The Governing Board approved an agreement at a special meeting May 3, 2023.

“We are pleased that the case against the WESD has been dismissed. We look forward to continuing the work of creating welcoming and accessible education spaces that meet the needs of our students, staff, and community,” said Governing Board President Nikkie Gomez-Whaley."