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California School District Sued for Violating Civil Rights in Evolution Controversy

SACRAMENTO, JAN. 17 – A California school district has been sued in federal court for 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.

“These are tactics you’d expect in a banana republic, not the state of California,” said Caldwell.

“Mr. Caldwell’s complaint describes a school district that appears to have been out-of-control,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. “Caldwell’s proposals deserved to be accepted or rejected on their merits. The school district’s apparent disregard for Mr. Caldwell’s civil and constitutional rights is deeply troubling.”

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.