A group claiming that the San Diego Unified School District board’s unanimous vote in March to rename high school Junipero Serra was an illegal plan to take legal action on Wednesday.
The board held the vote after students at the school demanded that Serra’s name be removed due to her treatment of Native Americans, according to FOX 5 in San Diego.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek to stop the process and restart the district so that the community can provide more information.
“This is another example of the ‘culture cancellation’ mentality that radical leftists in education are trying to impose on a reluctant American public,” said attorney Charles LiMandri, whose law firm attorneys are involved in the lawsuit, according to the San Diego Union. Tribune. “Father Serra was a great advocate for the indigenous people of California, and he deserves all of our efforts to defend his heritage.”
Serra, who lived from 1713 to 1784 and was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015, is known as the father of the California missionary system.
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The church revere Serra for bringing Roman Catholicism to the western United States, but critics say it forced Native Americans to abandon their culture or face brutal punishment.
Serra is one of dozens of historical figures who came under a microscope last year amid protests against racism.
The school district plans to rename the school Tierrasanta Canyon Hills High.
Jonna said the board violated Brown’s Law, which requires public notice of a vote as well as California and federal due process and establishment clauses, according to the Tribune.
“They held a virtual hearing to vote to change the name,” Jonna said, according to FOX 5. “No one in the community was aware of this hearing.
Chuck Cox, chairman of the Preserve Serra High Committee, said about 45,000 people in Tierrasanta, a neighborhood in northwest San Diego, were unaware of the meeting.
Junipero Serra High School principal Erica Renfree said all students and their parents were notified of the meeting and had a chance to speak out, the Tribune reported.
The district said its community contribution campaign included virtual public town halls and engagement on social media and in the news, according to FOX 5.
A district spokesperson told the Tribune that they had received numerous letters from the district for and against the name change.
Emma Taila, a student at Junipero Serra who asked for the name to be changed, told FOX 5 that she didn’t want to erase history, but she didn’t think Serra deserved to have a school named after her. .
“A lot of people argue that Serra had good intentions – of course, we don’t know for sure because all of our accounts are from the Spanish point of view – but we believe he was complicit in the mission system that killed and enslaved many indigenous people, “she told the station. “And we can’t just honor everyone who had good intentions with a high school name, especially if they’ve done so much damage.”
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Jonna said the principal’s actions “bent on a false and historically inaccurate narrative and demonstrated unconstitutional animosity towards this Catholic saint,” the Tribune reported.
Lawyer Charles LiMandri added: “The government cannot show hostility towards religion or preference for one religion or another or cannot show hostility towards a particular religion.”
Earlier this year, the San Francisco School Board overturned a controversial decision to rename dozens of schools because of historical figures believed to be associated with oppression, including Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.