The Victor Valley Union High School District has disciplined black students more severely than others and has agreed to rectify its history of discriminatory practices, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday.
The department’s Bureau of Civil Rights report revealed that a school principal in the Inland Empire district told investigators that black students were more disciplined because they were “loud” and it was their “culture.” Another teacher told investigators it’s “a cultural thing” that “there seems to be a lot of African American kids who think fighting is a solution to everything.”
The investigation, launched in 2014, found that the district was involved in a pattern in which black students were disciplined more severely than white students for similar behavior. The investigation also found that the district failed to maintain and produce timely, accurate, and complete records of school discipline.
The district said that prior to the completion of the investigation, district officials “were taking steps to increase the equity of opportunity for our students … We expect to see a significant improvement in subject data for our students of color, particularly African-American students.” The district said the report raise questions about “systemic problems” that he is working to solve.
District administrators, teachers and students had reported the discriminatory practices, which took the form of suspensions, expulsions, truancy and subpoenas by law enforcement, according to a ministry statement.
Interviews with school staff provided examples of discriminatory behavior that was described in a letter to the district. For example, one administrator related the case of a Latina student who bagged another student, was expelled from school for a semester, and then allowed to return to school. A black student who threatened but did not behave violently towards a security officer was expelled for more than a semester.
Some employees expressed concern about a youth citation program called Clean Sweep. The program, operated by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, allows administrators to write subpoenas for students who break the law on campus and request that they appear in juvenile court.
The research found that the district was 3.4 times more likely to issue subpoenas to black students than to white students in the 2018-2019 school year.
District leadership said in a memo that communities affected by Clean Sweep “already face crippling levels of poverty” and that the harm from issuing those subpoenas, which could result in fines for students’ parents, was “unreasonable.” . The program was used at least between 2014 and 2019.
Other examples included black students being disciplined more severely than white students for wearing baggy pants or not following the dress code.
Black students told investigators that they were monitored more frequently and more severely by campus security officers, and that pepper spray was used against them more often than other students. Students said Latino students are not disciplined in the same way for being loud.
As part of the settlement, the district agreed to revise its disciplinary policies and procedures, train its staff on the new policies, and implement a “corrective action plan” to ensure students are treated fairly.
In addition, the district agreed to hire a director to help implement the plan, publicly report disciplinary records, and conduct school climate surveys to assess perceptions of fairness and safety.
“I applaud Victor Valley Union High School District’s commitment today to repairing the harm its disciplinary practices have caused to black students and to ensure nondiscrimination in school discipline in the future,” Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, said in a statement.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-17/black-students-at-victorville-school-district-disciplined-more-harshly-than-white-students-investigation-says Victor Valley schools harshly disciplined Black students, feds say