OAN Deven Berryhill
UPDATED 3:00 PM PT – Monday, March 6, 2023
Arizona Christian University President Len Munsil fired back at the Washington Elementary School Board for their decision to end an 11-year contact calling it “wrong” and “unlawful.”
“The school board’s recent decision to ban ACU students from serving as student teachers was done for one reason only: our university’s commitment to our Christian convictions,” President Munsil said in a statement on Monday to The Christian Post. “That’s wrong, it’s unlawful, and it will only hurt the district’s students.”
During a district council meeting last week, Arizona school board member Tamillia Valenzuela argued before the district council that they should deny a request from ACU to renew the 11-year-long teacher hiring contract. She said that the renewal could have negative effects on “herself and the other two board members who are a part of the LGBTQ community.”
Valenzuela said on camera that she felt that she and the other “queer kids” in her district would be in “personal danger” if they used ACU graduates.
President Munsil also stated that ACU has never had any problems with their student teachers and the Arizona school district. He claimed that more than 100 ACU graduates have been placed in full time teaching positions during the 11-year-old partnership.
Munsil pointed out that many administrators in the Washington Elementary School District in Arizona have requested ACU graduates for teaching and administrative positions due to their excellent quality.
“The American Council is committed to pour financial resources into the Washington Elementary School District School Board Race in 2024 to elect competent, balanced, and family-centered leaders who focus on education and not politics,” Tanner DiBella, president and chairman of the American Council said in a tweet. “Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are bedrock American principles. We are exploring our options to defend the rights of our students.”
According to the ACU admissions application, students are required to provide a written testimony from the applicant. Each potential student must give evidence of a Christian life that is clearly recognizable by fellow Christians. Applicants should be regular members of a church that aligns with orthodox Christianity.
The ACU website stated that “[The] goal of Arizona Christian University is to cultivate the spiritual life of each student and to prepare each student for Christian service; therefore, it is required that applicants have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Washington School Board President Nikkie Gomez-Whaley said in a board meeting last week that others in the community have voiced opinions against the school board renewing their partnership with ACU.
“For me, this is not a concern about Christianity, there are plenty of Christian denominations who are LGBTQ friendly. So, I want to make it clear that, for me, my pause is not that they’re Christian so much as this particular institution’s strong anti-LGBTQ stance, and their strong belief that you believe this to your core, and you take it out into the world,” the board president said.
Gomez-Whaley concluded that she does not believe that ACU student-teachers can separate their Christian values from their professional obligations making them “unable to treat students equally.”
Reports say that President Munsil has reached out to councils in regards to the un-renewed teacher contract.
“Religious liberty and freedom of conscience are bedrock American principles. We are exploring our options to defend the rights of our students,” said President Munsil.