New York school district violated Civil Rights Act by hosting race-based student groups, complaint alleges

(Daily Caller) – Parents Defending Education, a parental rights group, filed a civil rights complaint Tuesday to the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) against a New York school district that allegedly hosted race-based affinity groups.

The complaint, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, names Ithaca City School District for allegedly engaging in racial segregation by hosting race-based “caucus groups” for “self-identified BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] students and teachers.” The groups, offered at Ithaca High School, were allegedly used “to facilitate conversation and develop actional steps towards equity” among the students and teachers of color during the district’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) Week of Action.

“Ithaca Senior High School intentionally segregated students from activities associated with BLM Week of Action solely based on the color of their skin,” Caroline Moore, vice president of Parents Defending Education, told the DCNF. “Seeing as this was a week to highlight diversity, one would think inclusivity would be on the forefront of everyone’s mind, but that was not the case here. School administrators should lead by example. Separating students based on their race signals to all students that this is acceptable behavior in a classroom. Be better.”

As a part of the school district’s BLM Week of Action, the high school also allegedly hosted a school-wide virtual town hall to discuss “the importance of inclusivity of BIPOC voices, contributions, black joy and excellence,” the complaint showed. A meeting was allegedly hosted to plan the school’s “bi-annual Students of Color United Summit 2023.”

The school put on a visual display depicting the “13 principles of BLM” and encouraged students to “draw, write, sing, perform and speak” about how the school community can support students in being “unapologetically black,” the complaint alleged.

In the past year, the OCR has documented a record high number of discrimination complaints across the nation’s schools; from October 2021 to September 2022, complaints almost doubled from the previous year, with nearly 19,000 filed, according to The New York Times. A majority of complaints were regarding disabilities, race and sex.

Ithaca City School District did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.