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Elementary School Art Project Leads To Claims Of Censorship

ARDEN-ARCADE (CBS13) — Allegations of censorship and freedom of speech violations in an elementary school classroom has the ACLU demanding an apology and changes from the San Juan Unified School District tonight.

According to the ACLU, an assignment to create "activism artwork" in a classroom at Del Manor Elementary School spiraled into a violation of civil rights. Four students chose to make "Black Lives Matter" the subject of their art, and the class teacher threw the work away because he said the art was inappropriate and political.

ACLU attorney Abre' Conner sent a letter to the San Juan Unified School District citing constitutional law and California education codes, and demanding the "Black Lives Matter" artwork be put on display, and that all staff at the elementary school receive cultural and sensitivity training.

"In this particular case, the law is so clear," Conner said. "And so the district is on the wrong side of history, but also squarely on the wrong side of the law."

The school district issued a statement reading in part: "Some of the assertions made in the letter from the ACLU are new information to the district and we will be investigating to determine their validity."

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Parents at after-school pickup were still learning about the artwork incident, which the ACLU says happened in September.

"I think Black Lives Matter is something that matters inside and outside the school," Falicia Solorzano said. "It matters everywhere."

"What they put out, the teacher actually seemed to be acting more like a bully than a teacher in this instance," Katrina Espey said.

The ACLU is giving the school district until next Wednesday to respond to their demand letter.

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