“It’s not who we are, not what we do,” said Just Communities Executive Director Jarrod Schwartz about allegations in a new lawsuit that claims the diversity and leadership group’s curriculum is “overtly and intentionally anti-Caucasian, anti-male, and anti-Christian.” “The work is not about blame or guilt,” said Schwartz. “We’re very intentional about not saying people are oppressors. It’s systems that are unequal.”
Parents and members of Fair Education, a pending 501(c)(3), disagree. The group filed a federal court suit against Just Communities and the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) on December 10, claiming intentional discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, and sex. According to Chair James Fenkner, the group formed roughly two months ago. Fenkner has not participated in any Just Communities workshops, but he says he knows two people who have. “I’ve seen a lot of things about [it],” said Fenkner, who’s called on Just Communities to publicize its curriculum. “I’m hyper-concerned.”
SBUSD has responded to the complaint by standing by its education partner. “Just Communities has a long and enviable track record of working with staff on a voluntary basis, in Santa Barbara and other school districts and organizations, to minimize discrimination and prejudice in all its forms,” said SBUSD spokesperson Lauren Bianchi Klemann.
It’s not unusual for Just Communities to not publicly publish their content, said Klemann. “We don’t publicize our curriculum, much less that of a third party.” Just Communities will not be releasing its work online, said Schwartz. He expressed concern that people might take the information out of context and use the material in the classroom without training.
Just Communities will run a series of Parent Equity Workshops starting January 17, 2019, that will be free and open to all Santa Barbara parents. The organization is also holding a Social Equity Summit open to the public for a fee of $75 on January 24.