Plaintiffs in Court Again to Hold California Department of Education and Kern County Office of Education Accountable for Policies that Deny Black and Latino Students Fair Educational Opportunities
October 25, 2016
A judge will consider requests from the Kern County Office of Education (KCOE) and the California Department of Education (CDE) to dismiss claims filed against them by civil rights groups challenging discriminatory school discipline policies that push African American and Latino students out of district schools and into alternative schools that provide fewer opportunities.
The CDE is asking the court to dismiss all claims by the plaintiffs against the office, and requesting that the plaintiffs’ lawsuit remove references to its legal obligation to monitor, intervene in, or otherwise ensure local school districts’ compliance with equal protection, non-discrimination, data reporting, and other education laws.
The KCOE is asking the court to dismiss claims against it related to non-discrimination. The office previously made the same request and the court ruled against it. The KCOE is also requesting the removal of all other claims dependent on the non-discrimination claims.
Attorneys for the Kern County Office of Education and the California Department of Education; Attorneys from California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), Equal Justice Society (EJS), Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc. (GBLA), and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati (WSGR) for the Plaintiffs, including parents and students in the Kern High School District, taxpayer plaintiff Lori De Leon, and community activist organizations Dolores Huerta Foundation, National Brotherhood Association, and Faith in Action - Kern County.
October 25, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.
Judge Sidney P. Chapin, Dept. 4
1415 Truxtun Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93301
Plaintiffs allege there is a long history of discriminatory practices that has resulted in the disproportionate expulsion and involuntary transfer of African American and Latino students. When the disproportionality was brought to the district’s attention, the district changed its reporting practices and method of addressing discipline so that students are involuntarily transferred or forced to waive their hearing rights in order to stay in some kind of school setting, which often fails to meet the students’ educational needs. As a result, they end up in the same alternative schools that expelled students are sent to and on the same path to nowhere.
The Kern High School District (KHSD), located in California’s Central Valley, has a student population that is 62 percent Latino and 6.3 percent African American. Over the last five years, discriminatory school assignment policies have made it far more likely for Latino and African American students to be suspended, expelled, or transferred to alternative schools than the general school population.
An equal or greater number of African American students and Latino students are being forced to spend time in alternative schools even while KHSD claims progress due to the decrease in expulsions. The numbers look different, but the result is that substantially similar numbers of African-American and Latino students are pushed out of regular school settings and assigned to alternative schools that fail to meet their needs or deliver a quality education.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.
Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund