A lawsuit was filed on Augusts 10th, 2018 against Sky Mountain Charter High School in Southern California by a piano teacher Dimitra Solomos who’s attorney’s say “was rejected by the charter school for religious reasons.” Click Here to see a PDF copy of the Complaint
Solomos who has been teaching piano to children for over 20 years in Orange and Riverside Counties was asked back in 2016 by a teacher along with families enrolled at Sky Mountain to become an approved vendor at the charter school. Solomos then completed a background check, acquired a business license along with other application requirements. Becoming a vendor would have allowed families to use extra-curricular funds to pay Solmos for their piano lessons, as some of the families had been paying out-of-pocket because she was an excellent teacher.
Solomos was initially told by the charter school’s management company that her application had been approved. However, management told her there was a prohibition on teaching religious music which she was curious about. She then asked about old spirituals which are in many piano method books such as Amazing Grace. Managment then told her that she “should tear out such songs or cover them over.” She also noted, “that J.S Back composed religious music and signed his works to the Glory of God.”
The next thing Solomos knew, the charter school had reversed its approval of her application to a denial of the application. In a follow-up conversation with a Director, she was told “that her Christmas recitals and offering of instruction in classical, jazz, blues and gospel were problematic,” and that the “longtime name of Solmos’s studio His Song Piano was deemed too religious,” was cited as a reason for the application denial. Also cited as a reason for the denial was the longtime name of Solomos’ studio, “His Song Piano,” which was deemed too religious.
The Pacific Justice Institute is representing Solomos. Her attorneys Michael Peffer and Matthew McReynolds filed the suit, it seeks damages, declaratory and injunctive relief on federal and state constitutional claims; along with violation of Solmos’s state civil rights and a federal conspiracy to violate constitutional rights.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, commented, “It is outrageous that this charter school would suggest tearing out old spirituals and “Amazing Grace,” from piano books, and then deny this highly qualified teacher’s application for questioning such a directive. Cases and statutes have long recognized the vital role that religious music has played in the history of Western Civilization. We are eager to vindicate our client’s rights to be treated equally and restore sanity to Sky Mountain Charter School.”
The Miller News Service attempted to reach Sky Mountain Charter School for comment on this story; we were then transferred to the voice-mail of the schools Chief Operations Officer Jodie Jones. We have not yet received a call back from Ms. Jones.
Keep Reading the Miller News Service for updates on this developing story.
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