The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal last week by an association of Christian schools accusing the University of California of violating high school applicants’ religious rights.
The Association of Christian Schools International, along with Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, Calif., and six of its students, filed suit against the university in 2005 for religious discrimination and violation of freedom of speech after the UC refused to grant students college preparatory credit for some courses taken at their Christian high school.
“It’s our understanding that they were denying the courses because they were being taught from a religious perspective,” said Jennifer Monk, an attorney who represented the high school and the association of Christian schools.
The UC counsel argues that the course review process is neutral.
“The university reviews all courses from all high schools for their academic merit,” said Margaret Wu, a UC senior counsel.
“These particular courses did not meet our academic criteria, and that’s true for some secular schools as well.”
Wu said that if a course is rejected by the university, the review process allows schools to modify and resubmit their course descriptions.
Monk said the school shouldn’t have to reapply because of the alleged discriminatory basis of the course’s rejection.
According to a university statement, faculty review high school courses and textbooks to determine if they meet the UC’s “a-g requirements” and the course’s ability to prepare a student at the university level to think critically and analytically about a given topic and not whether the course contains religious content.
The statement also noted that the UC has approved 43 a-g courses at Calvary Chapel.
In one example, an English course was denied preparatory credit because the only required text was an anthology of excerpts, while the university requires students to read full texts.
While Monk could not recall specific instances, she maintains that the UC did discriminate against the religious content of the courses.
“The (review) process (the UC has) set up is not sufficient to prevent that in the future,” she said.