Greenfield Schools Unlawfully Discriminates Against Church School

Jul 20, 2023

GREENFIELD, MA – Liberty Counsel sent a demand letter to Greenfield Public Schools (GPS) on behalf of Providence Moldovian Baptist Church and its school, Providence Christian Academy, as a result of their unlawful discrimination in failing to approve the application of the church school because of its religious mission to teach students using a Christian school curriculum.  Greenfield Public Schools is violating the First Amendment and Massachusetts law and must approve the school and refrain from further discrimination by August 10, 2023, to avoid further legal action.

Providence Christian Academy has provided all pertinent information that the Greenfield School Committee requested, in accordance with Massachusetts law. The school will use the Abeka Christian school curriculum which is accredited by the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools.  Full accreditation of Abeka through FACCS provides additional national and state recognition with the National Council of Private School Accreditation, which is a consortium of accrediting associations for the recognition of early childhood, elementary, and secondary private schools, and serves as a national review panel for the standards and review procedures of private school accrediting associations.

However, instead of approving the church school’s application at the committee meeting on July 12, 2023, School Committee Member Elizabeth Ann Deneeve used her position to air her personal beliefs, and to falsely disparage, malign, and misrepresent Providence Christian Academy and the curriculum it intends to use. 

For example, some of Deneeve’s outrageous and unlawful comments include: 

“They use the Abeka Curriculum, which I believe is in direct opposition to the values of GPS. The curriculum is full of false information and students who learn from it have a harder time getting into four-year colleges and universities because they will believe a whole set of things that are erroneous and be historically illiterate, which I think is a bad thing for our community and our country, and ultimately this is going to be reflected in a real breakdown in the separation of church and state, which is really the agenda of these curricula.” 

“In the Abeka textbook America: Land I Love, Satan is blamed for the spread of the theory of evolution and modern psychology; it is taught in the ‘Civil War’ section that black slavery was just cheaper than indentured servitude, and slaves were immigrants.” 

“In the science textbook, we learn that we must reject any scientific ideas that contradict the Bible, and there was only one Ice Age, and it lasted a couple of hundred years after Noah’s flood.” 

“The ‘History’ section will teach us that the Great Depression was created by socialists to destabilize patriotic Americans, and the LGBTQ issues are listed under “United States History, Heritage of Freedom, and Christian Perspectives Cultural Decay” section, saying traditional American family values have dramatically declined, and when the traditional heterosexual family comes under attack, all of society suffers.” 

“Schools that use Abeka have come under scrutiny for expelling students who are LGBTQ or the children of LGBTQ parents. Abeka is the founder of the Pensacola Christian College and has been fined $44 million by the IRS for lying about being a nonprofit. They’ve had to apologize for their racist past because they didn’t allow interracial relationships. They outlawed dancing.” 

After Deneeve expressed her anti-religious views, the committee failed to approve the church school’s application on the basis of its religious beliefs and its choice of a well-established Abeka curriculum. However, the committee indicated that the Abeka program is approved in Greenfield for home school students. Therefore, if the prospective students of Providence Christian Academy are approved to learn from the Abeka program individually at home, then the committee has no rational basis for denying these students the fundamental right to learn collectively from that same curriculum at the church school. 

Superintendent Christine DeBarge recently stated that GPS will be redistricting the schools to allow for greater “equity” across elementary schools, while also moving fifth grade to the elementary level and eighth grade to the middle school. However, the Greenfield School Committee is violating the First Amendment and Massachusetts law by discriminating against Providence Christian Academy based on the personal opinions or preferences of its members about the curriculum, or the manner in which the curriculum is taught. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The Greenfield Public School Committee’s failure to approve the Providence Christian Academy’s application is unlawful and unconstitutional. Perhaps these committee members need to return to class and learn the law. Parents, not the government, have the right to choose the best education for their children. Providence Christian Academy must be approved and allowed to open immediately.” 

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