In a recent legal setback for the Chino Valley Unified School District (CVUSD), a judge partially ruled against its notification policy that has sparked significant debate regarding the rights of parents in the upbringing of their children. As last Thursday’s hearing concluded, State Judge Michael Sachs granted the Attorney General’s application for a preliminary injunction against the first two parts of the policy, but rejected it for the third part. The next hearing in the case will take place on February 26, 2024.
The notification policy garnered state and national support from parents and Christian leaders who believe it supported the rights of parents to direct and oversee the welfare and education decisions involving their children. The policy’s critics, including California Attorney General Rob Bonta, argue that the policy discriminates against transgender-identified kids, violates their privacy rights, and puts them in danger from parents who believe gender is binary and based on biology.
This ruling will temporarily halt the district from enforcing the first and second parts of the parent notification policy while litigation is ongoing, but allow them to enforce part third. (Read Policy) This means parents will not have to be notified if their child starts using the bathrooms or sex-segregated school programs of the opposite sex. Nor are school officials required to call parents if their child asks to be identified or treated as a gender that is different from their biological sex. However, the Judge approved the part of the policy that requires parents to be notified if their child is “requesting to change any information contained in the student’s official or unofficial records.”
Elaborating further on the matter, she added, “I view this as a pause until we get our day before a jury. The question of whether a parent or guardian should be involved in the care and welfare of their children is extremely important to all Californians and parents across the state. People want to settle the question once and for all: who do our children belong to? The government or their parents? The overwhelming majority of people that I have come across regardless of political affiliation, religion, or other position agree that children belong to their parents and parents have a constitutional right in the upbringing of their children’s lives. I have complete faith in our legal team and as I said I look forward to our day before a jury. We are committed to this for the long haul as we believe the state has continued to overstep boundaries.”
CVUSD attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center (LJC), saw the decision as a single chapter in an ongoing story of the state’s attempt to redefine the boundaries between governmental policies and parental rights. “The Fourteenth Amendment and over a century of legal precedent guarantee parents the right to direct their children’s upbringing, and nothing in California law requires schools to keep secrets about children from their parents,” said LJC President Jacob Huebert. “We are confident that as litigation continues, the Court will find that the Attorney General’s case has no legal basis and will rule in Chino Valley’s favor.”
“We look forward to defending Chino Valley’s policy as the case moves forward,” said LJC Senior Counsel Emily Rae. “Both the law and public opinion are on Chino Valley’s side—recent polling shows that a supermajority of Californians believe parents should be involved in their kids’ education and that schools should not keep secrets from parents.”
Another attorney who has played a key role in advocating for and creating the CVUSD notification policy is Erin Friday, a leader with Our Duty. After watching Judge Sacks’s opening statement she knew he would find a way to rule in favor of the Attorney General.
She also disputes Bonta claim that the decision is a complete win. “He is ignoring two very important findings,” Friday explained. “First, Judge Sacks states unequivocally that students who take overt public actions that reveal their current gender identity have no expectation of privacy. This finding is in conformance with the order in the Escondido case.”
Second, she said Judge Sacks decided section three of the parental notification policy is not discriminatory on its face. Schools, therefore, must notify the parents when their student is “requesting to change any information contained in the student’s official and unofficial records.”
“The real-world effect of this carve-out requires a longer analysis following a review of the signed order in the preliminary injunction action,” Friday explained.