Support Religious Freedom - Standing for Faith

Religious freedom and parental rights are being threatened in California by a recently passed bill, SB524. Through this bill, the state of California is attempting to deny all boarding schools from being certified by the California Department of Education and force them to be under the supervision of the Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD). Not only does this take away the religious right to be a faith based school, but it also takes away the right of the parents to place their children in such a school.

On 3/13/2019, with the help of the Pacific Justice Institute , Teen Rescue, Inc.  filed a lawsuit against the State of California for infringement of Religious Freedom granted to us by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

By donating to this fund, you will be helping to support the litigation/impact operational expenses to fight this abuse of power and attempt by CCLD to take over the raising of our children.

Why is forcing schools to be under CCLD a bad thing?

Historically, Community Care Licensing is the agency that governs facilities that care for children who DO NOT have parents or legal guardians, such as group homes and foster care. Never in the history of California has CCLD been allowed to dictate the supervision of children who DO have parents or legal guardians. Until now.

Community Care Licencing does not allow entities under their supervision to be exclusively Christian or any other religion. Schools that are based on Christian, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, or any other religious principles, will be highly restricted in what they are allowed to teach their students under CCLD.

Not only does Community Care Licencing prevent schools from exercising their religious freedom, but they enforce extremely restrictive rules that would be contrary to many parent’s wishes.

If this bill is allowed to go on uncontested, it will also set a precedent for future bills to force private day schools out from the Department of Education and under CCLD’s authority. Changing a single word of the current bill is all that would be necessary for it to be applied to private day schools.

How is this happening?

This is happening through a bill that was passed in 2016 called SB524 . On the surface, this looks like a positive bill that is intended to ensure safe environments for children. However, when you look more closely, you will see that the bill is so broad and vaguely defined, that it has much more far reaching repercussions than it implies.

The new amendments that SB524 creates in California Health & Safety Code CCR § 1502 , set a precedent to restrict all religious schools from teaching their beliefs to students and will further violate parental rights.

These regulations state that any residential school that provides “behavior based services” is a group home and under the authority of Community Care Licencing. The problem is that the term “behavior based services” is not in any way defined. Is providing a structured environment a behavioral based service? Is giving detention? What about a class about how to live based on Biblical principles? This lack of definition gives CCLD carte blanche to claim almost anything is a behavior based service and force any boarding school into CCLD’s licencing structure. This is only the beginning of what will inevitably affect all private schools (residential AND standard day schools) in California and eventually, across the country.

Additionally, this bill impacts any faith based agency or organization that attempts to care for children and will preclude them from doing so as a faith-based organization. As Christians, or any person of faith, we need to take a stand that it is unacceptable for the state to have sole authority over the care (and soon education) of children.

Who will be impacted?

Currently, this affects all boarding schools in California. But removing one word from the bill is all that it will take to begin targeting private day schools as well.

If your school is a religious day school, you should be extremely concerned about how they will control your ability to teach your convictions and faith.

Parents, you should also be very concerned about the infringement on your right to choose a faith based school for your child. The Fourteenth Amendment grants you the right to direct the education of your child and instill the moral standards and religious beliefs of your choosing. The state should not be impeding your right to choose a school where your child will be taught according to your beliefs and values.  

This is a direct infringement and attack on the faith-based community. It will also create a monopoly where only the state will be permitted to care for children in any way, shape or form. For instance, any facility that cares for children medically, socially, behaviorally, or psychologically, will be forced under CCLD’s purview and the state will have full control of these areas. This will be the case even when there is a parent or guardian involved and will supersede any parental rights. One such example of how parental rights will be affected is if you decide that you do not want your child to have a cell phone. That decision would be overruled by the state of California in spite of the parent’s wishes. Currently Community Care Licensing regulations state that children under CCLD’s care must be allowed to have a cell phone. This is just one example of how your right to raise your child will be taken away from you.

Who are we?

Teen Rescue is a non-profit organization that owns and operates River View Christian Academy (RVCA). RVCA is an accredited boarding school with credentialed teachers that is certified by the California Department of Education. Our boarding school was established in 1993 and has been certified by the Department of Education for 25 years.

In spite of not being within their jurisdiction, Community Care Licensing has visited our campus on numerous occasions. Many of these visits were the result of “anonymous” complaints that claim RVCA was acting as an unlicensed group home.

CCLD subsequently served a search warrant and thoroughly investigated our school. They interviewed our students and staff and reviewed all of our records. During this investigation, it was made evident to our staff that CCLD was not looking for the truth, but had an agenda to prove the “complaint” true. One of our staff members overhear a CCLD investigator tell another, “Don’t take pictures of the library. It makes them look too much like a school.”

In spite of this clear agenda and unethical behavior, RVCA was later confirmed by Tom Stahl, the Regional Manager of CCLD at the time, to be in compliance with our certification under the Department of Education and that the complaint was unfounded.

However, further showing CCLD’s agenda, the final report after the meeting with Tom Stahl claimed that their investigation was “inconclusive”. Inconclusive in spite of the fact that their previous 3 day warrant and in-depth investigation, with our full cooperation, found NOTHING that RVCA was doing wrong or would cause us to be in violation of our certification under the Department of Education. Inconclusive in spite of Tom Stahl’s statement, which we have on a recorded statement that he was “satisfied there is no unlicensed supervision [at RVCA]”. In our opinion, the investigation was deemed “inconclusive” to allow them to leave the case open indefinitely and give them time to find another excuse to continue their harassment of our school.

At the beginning of this year (2019), CCLD returned to our campus with another warrant to again search our files and our entire campus, including private staff residences, and interview our staff and students. This time CCLD arrived unannounced with 17 investigators and an additional 16 armed California Highway Patrol officers. The student interviews were threatening and conducted without parent permission, showing their complete lack of respect for the parents’ rights. CCLD refused to tell us what generated this investigation, but they implied that it was related to SB524.

This investigation is currently ongoing.

In our 25 years as a school, RVCA has never had a complaint of child abuse. Nor has RVCA ever been cited for any type of violation, let alone a licensing violation. Yet, CCLD has continued to harass us for years for no other reason than that they want full and complete control over the care of children in the state of California. And they are using the vague and unspecified definitions in SB524 to further infringe on the rights of parents and religious organizations.

Standing For Faith

The United States was founded on the freedoms granted by the Constitution. As people of faith, we cannot stand idly by while the government slowly, but surely, whittles away our religious freedom. Nor can we allow the state to substitute its own judgement in place of the parents’ on matters of religion and moral issues.

We believe that this has gone too far and is a clear abuse of power under the color of authority. California needs to be held accountable for their constant harassment and infringement of our rights.

This fund will help pay for litigation/impact operational expenses to fight this abuse of power and attempt by CCLD to take over the raising of our children. The government has been attacking our religious freedom and trying to impose on child rearing for many years. This is a major step in that direction. If they win this battle they will have precedent to continue their fight against our religious freedom and will gain more control over the raising of our children. Please do not let them win this battle for the sake of our families and children.

For more information, please visit our website: 

Please contact your church, school, local government officials and express your concern over this abuse of power. And please consider donating. Thank you.

All funds raised will be used at the sole discretion of Teen Rescue, Inc. Any funds raised beyond what is needed to support the legal efforts will be used to supplement the operational expenses of River View Christian Academy and the children that we help.

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Teen Rescue, Inc. 
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