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Hindu Group and California's Board of Education Settle in Textbook Bias Suit

on 2009/6/8 10:04:01 ( 1209 reads )


SACRAMENTO, CA, June 8, 2008: The controversy over how Hinduism is taught in California's secondary public schools has apparently come to a conclusion.

California Parents for the Equalization of Educational Materials (CAPEEM) alleged that board members had discriminated against Hindus and their supporters during the 2005-06 adoption process for sixth-grade history and social science textbooks, and that the books represented Hinduism in a demeaning, inaccurate way.

In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. approved a settlement agreement in which the board makes no curriculum concessions but agrees to pay the Northridge-based nonprofit $175,000, which will arguably be enough to cover its legal expenses. Theresa Garcia, the newly appointed executive director of the Board of Education, said Friday she doesn't see it as a no-win for CAPEEM. "The board worked really hard to make the changes they had requested following the suit" in state court, Garcia said, emphasizing she wants to "ensure that all religions are depicted accurately."

There has been another lawsuit regarding this issue. The Hindu American Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit, sued in the State's Superior Court in 2006 to address the concerns of California Hindu parents that they had been ignored in the textbook-selection process, and that their religion was portrayed mistakenly and unfairly in the state's social studies. Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette rejected the foundation's content claim but found the textbook adoption process was flawed because the regulations governing it had not been fashioned in accord with California's Administrative Procedures Act.

Folowwing the HAF case, adhering to the judge's mandate, the state Board of Education published new regulations for the textbook-adoption process. "Prior to this, the state board was acting arbitrarily, without public comment and behind closed doors," foundation attorney Suhag Shukla said Friday. "Power was given back to the people." In a post-judgment settlement in June 2007, the board agreed to pay the foundation $250,000 to defray some of its costs.

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