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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
September 21, 2020

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Concerns Regarding Acellus Online Learning Program

As educators across our state continue engaging students in distance learning or through blended learning models, numerous concerns have surfaced regarding an online learning program called Acellus, used by some of our schools.

The California Department of Education (CDE) has learned through examples shared that Acellus lessons may contain highly inappropriate content and may not meet state legal requirements surrounding instructional materials.

Examples of objectionable content brought to our attention include:

  • Racist depictions of Black Americans
  • At least one question that perpetuates Islamophobic stereotypes
  • A lesson that uses words and images associated with a firearm

State lawmakers recognize the vital role of instructional materials in the formation of a child’s attitudes and beliefs when they adopted California Education Code sections 60040 through 60044, 60048, and 60200, which state that local governing boards of education have the responsibility to ensure that all of our students feel positively represented in their instructional resources. No instructional materials shall be adopted by any governing board for use in the schools, which in its determination, contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons on the basis of race or ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, nationality, or sexual orientation.

For more information regarding these and other statutes related to the social content of instructional materials, please see the California State Board of Education Standards for Evaluating Instructional Materials for Social Content, 2013 Edition at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/cf/documents/socialcontent2013.doc.

As local educators and school boards continue to evaluate curriculum that best meets the needs of all students, please remember to refrain from using any materials that perpetuate negative or racist stereotypes of our rich and diverse communities.

Sincerely,

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Monday, September 21, 2020

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