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Christian university settles with Valley school district over discrimination lawsuit

Arizona Christian University sued Washington Elementary School District after a student-teaching contract was not renewed earlier this year.

PHOENIX — The Washington Elementary School District Governing Board voted 4-1 Wednesday to settle a lawsuit filed by Arizona Christian University that accused the district of religious discrimination.

In February, the school board voted to terminate an ongoing student-teaching contract that allowed ACU students to gain education experience in WESD classrooms. 

The board worried about the university's anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs potentially causing harm to the district's students. 

"While I fully wholeheartedly believe in religious freedom and people being able to practice whatever faith that they have, I had some concerns regarding looking at this particular institution," WESD board member Tamillia Valenzuela said during a February board meeting.

The ACU student handbook states the university shall promote biblically-informed values, including "traditional sexual morality and lifelong marriage between one man and one woman."  

ACU insisted its students are instructed to not push their beliefs on others while participating in a student-teaching program. As a result, ACU filed a lawsuit against the district and asked a judge to have their contract reinstated.

The Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Christian university and said Thursday that the district had agreed to again let ACU students teach at WESD.

“At a time when a critical shortage of qualified, caring teachers exists, the Washington Elementary School District board did the right thing by prioritizing the needs of elementary school children and agreeing to partner once again with ACU’s student-teachers,” ADF senior counsel David Cortman said in a statement.

The district also agreed to pay $25,000 in attorney fees, ADF said.

*Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.*

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