A federal lawsuit on behalf of Westchester Lutheran Church and School charging a violation of constitutional liberties was filed against the City of Los Angeles Thursday, March 9th, in Los Angeles Federal Court by Advocates for Faith and Freedom attorney Robert Tyler. Westchester Lutheran School is at 7831 Sepulveda Blvd., in Westchester.
The suit alleges that the restrictions in the City of Los Angeles conditional use permit for the modernization of the school violate First Amendment freedom of religion provisions, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which expanded building rights for churches.
Tyler said a decision to file the lawsuit was made after the school was granted a conditional use permit in October to redevelop, rehabilitate and improve the site for continued church and school use, but the permit required that permitted uses could consist only of secular education programs from Monday through Friday, and that religious education programs could be taught only on Saturdays and Sundays, according to Tyler.
The lawsuit also objects to other conditions, such as including limiting enrollment and restrictions on the school’s hours of operation.
The church and school are required to set up a carpool program to maintain an average carpool of 3.5 persons per car.
Failure to achieve that ratio would result in automatic reduction in the maximum number of students allowed to be enrolled, said Tyler.
One of the parents of students at the school said the carpool requirement also extends to the preschool-age children as young as two years old, who would be required to ride to school with people with whom they are unfamiliar.
The school has been part of the community for over 50 years as a private Christian school, created to provide a religious-based background, which it now cannot do during the week because of this conditional use permit, said Tyler.
The church and school have attempted to work with city representatives to have the “objectionable conditions” removed and/or revised from the conditional use permit, but have been unsuccessful, Tyler said.
Advocates for Faith and Freedom is a nonprofit law firm that is dedicated to protecting religious liberty and family values, according to Tyler.