In an effort to save the Lynwood Adventist Academy from condemnation, more than 60 members of STOPPS (Stop Taking Our Private Parochial Schools) gathered at the Lynwood Unified School District board meeting Tuesday night to protest the board's decision to take a portion of the academy to build a new public high school.
The district filed condemnation proceedings last month to acquire the 20-acre academy site and a vacant 12-acre commercial parcel next to the academy.
Joseph F. Dent Jr., chairman of STOPPS and principal of the Los Angeles Union Seventh-day Adventist School in Lynwood, said the board did not consider the constitutional issues the board's decision would raise. "We are talking about a government agency taking church-owned property," Dent said. "That raises a serious First Amendment issue that I don't think has ever been tested before."
STOPPS, which was formed earlier this month, is represented by attorney Lee Boothby, general counsel for Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Washington, D.C. "It is unfair indeed that the school board seeks to replace sectarian education with secular education," Boothby told the board.
STOPPS will hold a rally at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the academy. Members will be walking door-to-door this weekend with pamphlets, Dent said.