SoCal Schools Sued For Canceling Retreat Field Trips

Judge holding gavel in courtroom

LOS ANGELES (CNS)- The administrators of eight Southern California school districts were hit with a lawsuit today after a series of cancellations of student field trips to Riley's Farm, a mock 1770s-era New England town that offers immersive history presentations of America's founding.

The lawsuit, brought by the Los Angeles-based law firm Freedom X, alleges that the school districts conspired to boycott the farm in response to politically conservative views expressed by its owner, James Patrick Riley, on social media.

Filed in Los Angeles federal court, the suit joins a similar suit filed last year against Claremont Unified School District and names as defendants the superintendents and board of education presidents of Azusa, Bonita, Burbank, Culver City, Monrovia, Rialto, San Bernardino City and Walnut Creek school districts.

It additionally names as a defendant Crystal MacHott, a teacher in the Corona-Norco Unified School District, who has admitted to campaigning for the boycott and who was unidentified at the time the Claremont lawsuit was filed.

The complaint alleges violations of Riley's First and Fourteenth Amendment freedom speech, retaliation, conspiracy and due process.

Riley's Farm is located in Glen Helen, in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Bill Becker, president of Freedom X, which claims to protect conservative and religious freedom of expression, described the schools' boycott of Riley's Farm as part of the current ``cancel culture'' trend, in which businesses become victims of left wing ideologues who seek to destroy them because of their owners' conservative beliefs.

The owners of Chic-fil-A, Mozilla, and numerous businesses and individuals branded ``hate groups'' by the Southern Poverty Law Center similarly have been targeted with boycotts by left wing ideological opponents, Becker said.

Riley posted his personal views regarding topical matters on his Facebook and Twitters accounts. The complaint alleges that shortly after Riley posted certain comments in 2018, MacHott used an alias Facebook account to disparage him. She then sent copies of Riley's posts to various school officials within the school districts, and the field trip cancellations and boycotts soon followed, the complaint alleges.

In addition to filing the current lawsuit, Freedom X is preparing an appeal of the Claremont lawsuit's dismissal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Photo: Getty Images

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