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In May 2022, liberated Ethnic Studies educators were sued for supporting the teaching of Palestine in Ethnic Studies courses in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

“Concerned Jewish Parents And Teachers Of Los Angeles,” Amy Leserman, Lindsey Kohn, Danna Rosenthal, and Daniel Eli (plaintiffs) filed an unsubstantiated lawsuit against the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium (LESMCC), United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz, Chicano/a Studies Professor Theresa Montaño, Ethnic Studies Teacher Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona, and 10 others (John Doe defendants), alleging an attempt to insert “antisemitic materials” into classrooms within LAUSD. 

Due to the baseless lawsuit, for over two years, LESMCC and UTLA members have endured emotional, psychological, professional, and financial harm via hate mail, gossip, negative press, the loss of contractual work, being blacklisted, and defamed. 

The defendants filed motions to dismiss the case and initiated an anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) suit, asserting that the plaintiffs’ claims lack legal and factual basis and impinge on their right to free speech. Hearings were scheduled and subsequently canceled without explanation in October 2022, December 2023, and April 2024.

Though a hearing to once again consider the motion to dismiss the unfounded lawsuit was scheduled for Thursday May 16th, on Saturday May 11, 2024, the court announced that no one needs to appear at the court hearing, and instead the judge has announced he will make his ruling in writing.

In response to the bogus lawsuit, Theresa Montaño, one of the named defendants said, “Ethnic studies uncovers and humanizes the curriculum by centering the intellectual and ancestral knowledge of people of color who for hundreds of years were absent from the curriculum. Ethnic Studies acknowledges injustice everywhere and actively works to construct a better life for all. Solidarity is an essential principle of Ethnic Studies. The censorship, harassment and intimidation faced by those educators who dare to teach Arab American Studies, who dare to mention the word Palestine and who stand up to injustice everywhere is deeply concerning. Teachers must be allowed to teach about controversial issues, current events and to teach about racism and injustice–this is the cornerstone of democracy. That is what this case is about.”

A professor of Chicano/a Studies Dr. Montaño has more than 45 years in public education. Before moving into higher education, she taught for 15 years in K-12 schools. A union activist, Montaño is the former California Teachers Association Vice President. She is also a member of the California Faculty Association where she serves as tri-chair of the Chicanx-Latinx and Teacher Education Caucuses. She is also an active member of the Palestinian Arab Muslim Caucus. Dr. Montaño is active in the Ethnic Studies movement. She served on California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Advisory Committee and is working with Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium and others on the implementation of Ethnic Studies programs and curriculum. She is a member of the Los Angeles County Office Board of Education and co-chairs LULAC’s (League of United Latin American Citizens) higher education committee.

Lupe Carrasco Cardona, another Ethnic Studies educator named in the lawsuit said, “This case demonstrates how white supremacists are attacking Chicanas and slandering them as anti-semitic Ethnic Studies educators. We are motivated by love and humanizing all people.”

Carrasco Cardona has been an Ethnic Studies, English, Social Studies and Journalism educator for 24 years and has taught in California, Arizona and Texas.  She currently is an Ethnic Studies Teacher at Roybal Learning Center in downtown Los Angeles. An adjunct lecturer in Chicana/o Studies at California State University at Northridge, Cardona is also the chair of the Association of Raza Educators (Los Angeles chapter), co-founder of XOCHITL Los Angeles, a member of Ethnic Studies Now Coalition’s Coordinating Committee, and a founding member of the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Coalition.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Lori Lowenthal, secretary of the American Zionist Movement, Jerome M. Marcus, who has represented former President Donald Trump alleging election fraud, and The Deborah Project, a law firm with current Ethnic Studies-related lawsuits against Berkeley Unified School District, Hayward Unified School District, and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District.

Thank you for standing up for our liberated Ethnic Studies movement, Arab American Studies, our right to free speech, and teaching the truth!

Attend our teach-in to learn more about the lawsuit and current climate of repression and censorship of teaching about Palestine in K-20 on Friday May 17, 2024 from 4-30-6:00 PM PST (NEW DATE & TIME) in, Los Angeles.

Register Today Here

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Organize locally to stop the censoring of teaching about Arab American Studies, including Palestine!

Research who your school district is working with for your Ethnic Studies implementation and professional development!

Demand your district lift the ban on Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium and demand that your district communicates who they ban and/or censor!