Antioch school district must face trial on agreement to remedy bias against Black students
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2018
Contact: Lawrence Carter-Long, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, 510-644-2555 x5256
Allison Elgart, Equal Justice Society, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-288-8708
Michael Harris, National Center for Youth Law, email@example.com, 510-835-8098 x3006
MARTINEZ, CA – A state court has rejected the Antioch Unified School District’s (AUSD’s) attempt to renege on an agreement made with the East County NAACP to address federal civil rights and disability rights violations against African American students.
AUSD agreed in March 2015 to retain experts to investigate the District’s alleged discriminatory practices. The experts—chosen from the fields of school discipline, special education, and social psychology—were to make recommendations to address discrimination, which stemmed in part from implicit bias.
“After three more years of discrimination against students and not providing necessary special education services, Antioch Unified has spent taxpayer dollars trying to break their promises rather than investing those resources to fix the problem,” said Willie Mims of the East County NAACP. “East County NAACP will continue to fight for the protection and support of African American students held back by discrimination.”
African American students make up 26 percent of AUSD’s student population but are suspended 59 percent of the time and total 65 percent of all expulsions. African American students with disabilities are almost 12 times more likely to be suspended at least once, and over 13 times more likely to be expelled than White students without disabilities.
Although the District initially complied with its obligations under the agreement, it ultimately refused to move forward, and the experts were unable to complete their investigation or recommendations as a result. Attorneys for East County NAACP were forced to sue the District in July 2016 for breaking their promise.
On February 2, 2018, lawyers for the District argued before Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Charles S. Treat that the interim settlement agreement was “invalid and cannot be enforced.”
On February 15, Judge Treat ruled in favor of East County NAACP, determining that “the District should not be permitted to avoid the Agreement simply because it has changed its mind.” The judge’s ruling clears the way for the case to go to trial October 2018.
The East County NAACP is represented by Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), Morrison & Foerster, the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), and the Equal Justice Society (EJS).
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