ACLU accuses San Marcos Middle School of illegal fundraising

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SAN MARCOS, Calif. -- The ACLU is raising questions about the legality of recent fundraising efforts by San Marcos Middle School.

A post on San Marcos Middle School's website last week showed a partnership with Illinois-based Kids Around The World to raise over $3,000 dollars to provide 14,000 meals for children in Tanzania. According to Kids Around The World, the group is a Christian organization -- something the ACLU says poses a legal problem for the public school.

California laws prohibit public entities -- including public schools -- from making any type of contribution to any religious sect or sectarian purpose.

“I want the school to get on the right side of the line," said David Loy, legal director for the ACLU's San Diego chapter. "I want the school to comply with the California constitution."

Loy sent a letter notifying the school of the breech.

“I think it’s wonderful work, personally, but California law is very clear that if it is a religious group -- if it has a religious mission, in any part of its mission -- then a public school cannot be supporting that financially or otherwise," he said.

FOX 5 contacted the San Marcos Unified School District. The district responded that San Marcos Middle School is partnering with the group, Friends And Family Community Connection. It released a statement that stated, in part:

"This is a humanitarian effort with no sectarian purpose. FFCC is assisted by kids around the world, which the ACLU has claimed is a religious organization. However, no funds will be directed to KATW. The school planned to give all funds raised to FFCC."

The school’s website was updated Friday, removing the Kids Around The World reference. The ACLU says changing the organization doesn't necessarily solve the school’s problem.

“If any support of aid flows to any part of the religious groups organization mission, or any part of its operation, then that’s prohibited for a public school to do," Loy said.

The district has conveyed it understands the concern and the district superintendent is now investigating the fundraising with its legal counsel.

The ACLU is asking that the money be diverted to another group altogether to eliminate the religious association.

“The law is clear. Period," Loy said.

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