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3 western Pennsylvania school districts file lawsuit over new education guidelines from state

3 school districts file lawsuit over new education guidelines from state
3 school districts file lawsuit over new education guidelines from state 03:13

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Three western Pennsylvania school districts are suing the state for requiring "culturally relevant and sustaining education."

The Mars Area, Penn Crest and Laurel school districts, as well as two teachers, several board members and parents, filed a lawsuit Monday trying to stop the Shapiro administration from implementing "culturally relevant and sustaining education," also known as CRSE, in every school district in Pennsylvania. 

Leonard Rich, the superintendent of the Laurel School District, explained to KDKA-TV why he and the district joined the lawsuit.

"CSRE goes beyond and tells students what to think," he said. "I'm more driven to tell students and encourage students on how to think."

"The district's objection that we are being mandated to not teach our kids how to think but what to think," he added. "Freedom of expression is a First Amendment right."

The plaintiff's attorney, Tom Breth, gave some examples of what he says is the worst of the 49 guidelines that were announced at the end of the Wolf administration. They include, according to Breth, requiring teachers to disrupt their schools by advocating and engaging in efforts to rewrite policies, requiring teachers to question students about economic, political and social power structures in the school, community, and world and teachers are to believe and acknowledge that microaggressions are real. 

"The Department of Education is trying to tell parents and students what they have to believe," Breth said.

"I fear if they can tell teachers and students and parents what they have to believe in this circumstance, what's the next circumstances they are going to tell them to believe?" he added.

The guidelines are set to go into effect on July 1 in every school district in the state.

Breth said the guidelines are unconstitutionally vague and overly broad. He said the state never went through the regulatory process and wants the court to let school boards control the curriculum. 

"(The state) threaten they are going to withhold the subsidies that are owed these school districts if they don't fully comply," he said.

The state has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit. A Shapiro administration spokesperson declined to comment. 

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