National Center for Youth Law


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Racial Harassment Drives Students from Elite College Prep Program
Feds Investigate

“Niggers are dumb.” She’d hear racist and offensive comments like this once or twice a week in her Spanish class at Mira Loma High School in Northern California’s San Juan Unified School District. She continued to be openly racially harassed in class despite her teacher hearing these taunts, and despite her and her family’s complaints to the school administration. In the end, she transferred out of Mira Loma’s prestigious International Baccalaureate program in order to escape this racially hostile environment.

NCYL filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education seeking an investigation into incidents like this, incidents which reflect Mira Loma’s longstanding and pervasive maintenance of a hostile educational environment for African Americans in violation of their civil rights. Data show African American students at Mira Loma have disparate access to educational opportunities and are disciplined at disparate rates. The failure of the Mira Loma’s staff to investigate and address complaints of racial harassment is emblematic of institutional indifference. That indifference has consequences for individual lives, it is forcing students to choose between their education and their safety.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into whether the District has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of race, color, and national origin. NCYL has called upon the District to take steps now to address unlawful discrimination at Mira Loma, by revising their complaint policies, training staff in appropriate responses to racial harassment, and improving the school climate for African Americans.