National Center for Youth Law

Press Releases

Feds Open Investigation of School’s Refusal to Address Campus Racism
Mira Loma High Accused of Allowing Racially Hostile Environment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 23, 2018
Contact: Alexandra Santa Ana (510) 835-8098 ext. 3054

 

Sacramento, CA – African American students have been forced to abandon prestigious academic programs at Mira Loma High School because of a festering racially hostile environment. Confronted with evidence of racial harassment, school and district administrators refused to take action leading the family to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) which has agreed to investigate the matter.

In violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mira Loma discriminates against African American students through its racially hostile educational environment. The troubling pattern of Mira Loma’s violation of federal law and deliberate indifference is recounted in a formal complaint filed on behalf of former students by the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL).

In response to continuous harassment from students, NCYL’s clients repeatedly attempted to notify and work with school administrators to address these problems. When the students were callously ignored and harassment continued, NCYL intervened on its clients’ behalf and offered to work with the school to improve its complaint procedures and create a safe and welcoming environment for all students. However, school administrators including Vice Principal Gina Jackson, refused to adequately investigate, refused to work with or adopt the family’s suggestions for improvement, and refused to take even simple actions such as separating the students from their harassers.

“Our clients have sacrificed their coveted spots in the school’s prestigious International Baccalaureate program in order to escape the school’s atmosphere of fear and racially motivated harassment. The targeted intimidation they experienced while at Mira Loma has forced them to sacrifice their education for their well-being,” said NCYL attorney Alexandra Santa Ana.

“Mira Loma’s failure to address bullying and harassment of Black students is reflective of the larger issue of racism, sexism, and ableism in California schools — making it difficult for vulnerable Black students, particularly girls and students with disabilities to excel in education. Furthermore, while my girls and many other Black students are fighting for an equal education, their harassers are allowed to abuse our children without a scratch on their record,” said the students’ guardian.

The failure of Mira Loma’s staff to investigate complaints of harassment has created a pervasive hostile educational environment and denied African-American students access to educational opportunities. The latest data available from Mira Loma documents the exclusion of African-American students from valuable educational resources and supports as evinced by disparate discipline rates and disparate access to educational opportunities.

NCYL has called upon the OCR to conduct a thorough investigation and require Mira Loma to develop and implement policy changes to address its hostile educational environment.

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The National Center for Youth Law is a non-profit law firm that helps low-income children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them. For more information, please visit www.youthlaw.org.