School District Sued for Squelching Parent Objections to “Rainbow Day”

San Jose, CA – An appeal has been filed with the California Court of Appeal in a lawsuit challenging a refusal by the superintendent and school board president of San Jose Unified School District to allow a parent to formally request changes to a controversial program at her child’s middle school.

The parent, Norina Mooney, started asking questions after a pro-LGBT “Rainbow Day” was held this spring at Castillero Middle School. She asked district officials to place an item on the agenda which, if approved by the Board, would have directed the school to make Rainbow Day more inclusive of non-LGBT students affected by bullying.

In spite of a California law that says citizens should be allowed to place items on school board agendas, district officials refused to do so, claiming the school board did not have jurisdiction to direct a middle school to make such changes. Pacific Justice Institute filed suit in June on Mooney’s behalf to protect the rights of parents and citizens to participate in school district decisions. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge rejected the suit without comment, prompting the appeal.

PJI president Brad Dacus commented, “It is bad enough for school districts to push a special-interest social agenda on kids and parents, but it is even worse—and illegal—for districts to deny parents their legal rights to seek corrective action and hold their school board members accountable. We cannot allow our elected officials to ignore the law and squelch debate on important public issues, just because they can’t handle opposing viewpoints.”

PJI staff attorneys are being assisted in this case by San Jose-based affiliate attorney Christopher Mays.