California School District Denies Equal Access to Bible Club

Sep 5, 2023

HAYWARD, CA – Liberty Counsel has sent a demand letter to Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) and its superintendent, Dr. Jason Reimann, for discriminating against Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) by not allowing its Good News Club to meet on the Fairview Elementary School campus while allowing other clubs to meet. Since January 2023, CEF has requested three distinct times to resume holding the after-school club in an available classroom, but HUSD has denied all three requests without explanation.

On August 21, 2023, Liberty Counsel sent the demand letter to the school district detailing the facts, policies, and laws that do not permit the district to deny CEF’s use of school facilities. In the letter, Liberty Counsel advised the school district to respond by August 31, 2023 to avoid further legal action. The school district did not respond to Liberty Counsel’s letter within the requested 10-day period, nor has it responded to this date.

HUSD previously allowed CEF to host a Good News Club at Fairview Elementary for numerous years before COVID caused the cancelation of all clubs in Spring 2020. After each of the school district’s denials to resume the Good News Club, district officials failed to respond to repeated correspondence from CEF. The district permits other similar clubs, including Girl Scouts and Girls on the Run, to meet directly after school on campus.

In July 2023, CEF Rhode Island and its Good News Clubs prevailed in Liberty Counsel’s lawsuit against the Providence Public School District which repeatedly ignored CEF’s applications to host Good News Clubs on its campuses.  A federal district court ruled the school district discriminated against CEF by not allowing the Good News Clubs while allowing other clubs to meet. As a result of the victory, the Providence Public School District is permanently mandated to treat the Good News Clubs “on an equal basis with similarly situated organizations, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Girls on the Run.” The Court declared that Christian clubs are entitled to equal access “on the same terms” as other after-school clubs. 

In June 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School ruled that public schools violate the First Amendment by not providing equal access and equal treatment to Christian clubs when the school has opened the forum to secular clubs, as in this case.

CEF Rhode Island is a Christian non-profit organization and a subsidiary of Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc., an international non-profit worldwide children’s ministry. CEF Good News Clubs positively impact the lives of children and their families. Good News Clubs typically meet once per week, immediately after school, and are led by trained and vetted local community volunteers. The clubs provide religious and other teaching and activities to encourage learning, spiritual growth, and service to others, as well as social, emotional, character, and leadership development.

Good News Clubs do not charge any fee and welcome children, regardless of religious belief, with written permission from parents. There are currently 3,285 Good News Clubs with approximately 2000 of them meeting after school in public elementary and middle schools across the United States.

Liberty Counsel has represented approximately 200 CEF cases nationally and has never lost a case involving Good News Clubs.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “According to the law, Good News Clubs must be given equal access as the non-religious groups on public school campuses. Equal access means equal treatment including the use of on-campus facilities, fee waivers, time of meetings, and announcements. Liberty Counsel will work to ensure this happens.” 

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