This is a screen shot, with individual's names redacted, of an email I received yesterday from the school district. Of particular emphasis is this directive: "If teachers decide to use the live broadcast as an educational opportunity, and they have students that do not wish to participate, please make provisions for those students."
The only provision that should be made for such students, frankly, is that they should be allowed to earn a failing grade on any assessment directly linked to this event. If you start allowing students in a social science class to 'opt out' of an activity based upon their political beliefs, you can pretty much kiss any discussion of current events goodbye....and this is pretty much embedded in the California State Standards for Social Sciences:
Pg. 47, Grades 9-12, Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills
1) Students compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that were learned
4)Students relate current events to the physical and human characteristics of places and regions
I tell you this much: I will never go along quietly with some directive that tells me allow students in a science class to 'opt out' of any assignment based upon the State Standards that they think troublesome to their personal beliefs. That effectively privileges ignorance. They do not have a right to dictate which State Standards are taught, or which should be used in determination of their grade. If they want to change what is taught, they need to participate in the process like the rest of us.
Fresno Unified knows darn well that legal recourse exists should instructors abuse the 'bully pulpit' of the classroom, and they have a vested interest in discouraging bad instructional practice. But the mere presentation of a current event, even one with partisan overtones, does not in itself rise to the level of endorsement of any particular viewpoint by the instructor, much less the district's employer. And, even if it was perceived as such by other partisans, that would not necessarily run it afoul of the Establishment Clause, which is concerned with the free exercise of religion, rather than political points of view.