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CA school district sued for violating civil rights in evolution controversy

John G. West

A California school district has been sued in federal court for allegedly violating a parent’s civil rights during a controversy over how to teach evolution.

For more than a year, Larry Caldwell tried to get the Roseville Joint Union High School District outside of Sacramento to consider changing how it taught the theory of evolution in its biology classes. Caldwell, who has three children, says he wanted the district to correct factual errors in its biology textbooks as well as to introduce students to some scientific criticisms of modern evolutionary theory. Caldwell did not propose that the district teach creationism or alternatives to evolution.

The Roseville district ultimately rejected Caldwell’s recommendations. But in the process of trying to scuttle his proposals, Caldwell alleges that the district repeatedly denied him rights and procedures normally afforded to other citizens in the district, banned parents from speaking in favor of his proposals at a public meeting, publicly attacked his personal religious beliefs, spread false rumors about him, and even threatened to sue him and other parents if they continued to speak out.

“I tried to exercise my basic rights as a citizen to propose a new idea, and school officials responded by suspending normal procedures, publicly attacking my personal religious beliefs, and even threatening to sue me to stop me from speaking out,” reported Caldwell. “These are tactics you’d expect in a banana republic, not the state of California.”

A press release and timeline have been issued by Caldwell, and his 96-page legal complaint filed in federal district court is available here.

John G. West

Senior Fellow, Managing Director, and Vice President of Discovery Institute
Dr. John G. West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and Managing Director of the Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Formerly the Chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at Seattle Pacific University, West is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker who has written or edited 12 books, including Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society, and Walt Disney and Live Action: The Disney Studio’s Live-Action Features of the 1950s and 60s. His documentary films include Fire-Maker, Revolutionary, The War on Humans, and (most recently) Human Zoos. West holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University, and he has been interviewed by media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, Reuters, Time magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.