The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging the San Diego school district to end a summer partnership with local churches.
The San Diego Unified School District has reportedly formed a partnership with area churches that involves these churches opening up their doors to children to be tutored by volunteer teachers for the summer. The sessions will also include "character education," according to media accounts. Superintendent Cindy Marten met with church leaders to promote the partnership at St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ, which lists one of its visions as to "WIN SOULS FOR CHRIST."
FFRF contends the district should terminate the partnership, since it can't allow its summer school programs to be used as recruiting grounds for churches.
"It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the district to offer religious leaders unique access to its students, which signals school endorsement of religion," FFRF Legal Fellow Madeline Ziegler writes to Marten. "Courts have repeatedly struck down public school practices that affiliate public schools with religious groups and religious instruction."
The summer partnership impermissibly advances religion, communicates a message of school endorsement of religion and is marked by the excessive entanglement between the school district and church, FFRF asserts. It asks that the School District cease all involvement with and promotion of church programs and dissolve any formal summer partnerships with the churches.
"Tie-ups between public schools and churches should be out of the question," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Governmental institutions cannot be collaborating with places of worship, especially when it involves a captive audience of young and impressionable children."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to the separation of state and church, with almost 24,000 nonreligious members across the country, including more than 3,000 in California.