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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Neighborhood faculty agrees to deal with racial discrimination

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The U.S. Division of Justice introduced a settlement settlement with Highland Neighborhood Faculty in Kansas on Monday after investigating the school for discrimination in opposition to Black college students, notably pupil athletes.

The investigation launched in January 2022 after Black college students alleged that they have been surveilled and topic to harsher disciplinary measures than white classmates, together with elimination from campus housing and expulsion.

The Justice Division settlement requires the school to make its disciplinary insurance policies extra clear, enhance insurance policies and procedures for responding to college students’ racial discrimination complaints, dedicate an administrator to addressing these sorts of complaints, and guarantee campus safety personnel have coaching and insurance policies in place that forestall discriminatory or inconsistent conduct towards college students.

“When academic establishments are making choices about pupil self-discipline, race and ethnicity are by no means related elements,” Kate E. Brubacher, U.S. lawyer for the district of Kansas, stated in a Justice Division press launch. “Faculties and universities play a robust position in shaping the event of younger individuals, so it’s crucial that they assist set the usual for creating environments the place all college students are handled with the identical stage of respect and equity.”

Deborah Fox, president of the school, stated in a assertion that the school desires “to make sure that all college students really feel welcome to be taught, develop, and thrive as they take vital steps of their academic journey.” She added that there’s “all the time room for enchancment” and “we welcome the chance to work collaboratively” with the Justice Division.

Fox stated Highland’s leaders additionally dedicated to creating three new administrative roles and hiring outdoors specialists to make sure “priceless coaching for all workers and school in order that we will be aware of pupil considerations and take immediate motion on any incidents that could be a possible concern.”

The campus, which has closely recruited Black athletes prior to now, has a historical past of racially charged incidents, based on KCUR, the NPR station in Kansas Metropolis. A former ladies’s basketball coach on the faculty, B. J. Smith, stated she was requested to deal with recruiting white athletes and was dismissed after refusing. The ACLU of Kansas filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in opposition to the school on behalf of 4 Black college students in 2020 and Highland settled, giving every pupil $15,000 and promising to institute antidiscrimination coaching for workers.

Fox was additionally broadly criticized for evaluating a Black pupil athlete to Adolf Hitler in a recording of a 2021 assembly leaked final yr, arguing the scholar had an excessive amount of affect over his friends. She referred to Hitler as a “nice chief” who misused his management abilities.

“No faculty pupil ought to have their academic expertise marred or disrupted by discrimination based mostly on their race,” Kristen Clarke, assistant lawyer normal for the Justice Division’s civil rights division, stated within the launch. “Neighborhood schools are an vital pathway to four-year establishments and the workforce, and federal legislation requires that their campuses, applications and actions be equally out there to all with out regard to race.”

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