Parents Defending Education Files Freedom of Information Request Suit Against Sequoia Union School District


Redwood City, California — Parents Defending Education (PDE), a nationwide membership organization whose members oppose political indoctrination in America’s schools, filed a complaint in the Superior Court of San Mateo County, California against Sequoia Union School District for violations of the California Public Records Act and California Constitution Article 1.

This is a lawsuit to enforce the right to inspect public records under Article I, §3 of the California Constitution and the California Public Records Act (“CPRA”), Cal. Gov’t Code §7921.000 et seq. Plaintiff and Petitioner Parents Defending Education (“PDE”) requested records from Defendant and Respondent, the Sequoia Union High School District, but the District is withholding requested records without lawful justification. PDE seeks a writ of mandate, declaratory and injunctive relief, attorney fees, and costs.

In early 2024, filmmaker Eli Steele released a new documentary: Killing America: Can America’s Schools Be Saved? The film highlights rising antisemitism in the Bay Area public schools and focuses on Menlo-Atherton High School in the Sequoia Union High School District in particular.

Steele’s documentary features photos and short video clips originally created by Menlo-Atherton’s student newspaper, the M-A Chronicle. The editorial board of the M-A Chronicle accused Steele of copyright infringement for using this content, demanded that he remove it from his film, and convinced multiple online platforms to remove the video. Steele maintained that his inclusion of the photos and videos was protected by the Fair Use doctrine, and the M-A Chronicle ultimately decided not to pursue a legal claim against him.

In furtherance of its mission to prevent corrosive and discriminatory ideologies from influencing K-12 education, PDE submitted a CPRA request to the Sequoia Union High School District for records related to this controversy. PDE seeks to uncover the extent to which the M-A Chronicle’s efforts to silence criticism of the District were supported by taxpayer dollars.

The District partially denied PDE’s request, citing inapplicable CPRA exemptions and privileges that have nothing to do with the law governing disclosure of public records. The District’s refusal to produce the records is unjustified, and PDE respectfully requests that this Court order the District to produce the requested records.