Nearly 50 Chino residents have contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation in support of FFRF’s lawsuit against the Chino Valley Unified School District School Board, Calif, since the state/church watchdog filed a federal court case on Nov. 13, challenging school board meetings that "resemble a church service.” FFRF litigation attorney David J.P. Kaloyanides filed an amended complaint today, adding 18 new plaintiffs to the suit.
The suit now has 20 unnamed plaintiffs and two named plaintiffs: Mike Anderson, a father of students, and Larry Maldonado, a father of students who is also a Christian who supports secular education. Including FFRF, this brings the total to 23 plaintiffs.
Three of the Doe plaintiffs are district employees, while the rest are parents whose children attend CVUSD schools. It is customary to seek a protective order keeping plaintiff identities confidential when state/church lawsuits involve parents of young children, or employees who risk reprisal. All plaintiffs have encountered and object to the prayers, proselytizing, and bible readings that are regular features at CVUSD school board meetings. Nearly all plaintiffs are members of FFRF.
“We thank everyone in Chino who has contacted FFRF to supply additional allegations and to support our efforts to keep divisive religious rituals out of the school district,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’re grateful to all our new plaintiffs. The outpouring of support is very heartening.”
Several other individuals whom FFRF was not able to add as official plaintiffs are also named in the complaint as supporters of the lawsuit: Paulette Hawkins, Lisa Greathouse, Ryan Quinn, Colin Campbell and James F. Thompson.
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel, who is co-counsel with Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert, remarked that FFRF has rarely encountered anything like this level of demand to join one of its lawsuits. “Clearly people are fed up with the proselytizing school board,” he said.
FFRF is a national association of freethinkers with more than 21,500 members, including more than 3,300 in California.