Students alleging racism in violation of settlement have claims dismissed

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuits brought by three Black North Layton Junior High School students who allege that the Davis School District failed to honor a settlement with the Justice Department over systematic racial discrimination.

According to the Oct. 20, 2021 settlement, because the district violated the equal protective rights of black students through its “pervasive violations” and “discriminatory enforcement of its codes of conduct,” the district was directed to take steps to “end racial harassment, their… prevent recurrence, and eliminate any anti-racial environment that currently exists in its schools, programs, and activities. . . . “

In dismissing the claims made by the three students, US District Court Judge Dale Kimball stated that, according to the case law, the settlement should have made it clear that individual students could make a claim, but they did not.

In the order, Judge Kimball said, “The recognition of third-party beneficiary status for individual students would open the door to any individual Black or Asian-American student to bring an individual breach of contract lawsuit, even if they had not suffered harm. Having individual students sue for violations of the Settlement Agreement would produce untenable results that the parties could not reasonably have intended.”

Instead, the settlement outlined several requirements that the Davis School District had to follow, including the development of a centralized grievance management system, a statement to the school community of its intent to provide a harassment-free environment, and training to address racial discrimination.

The parents of the three students who filed the civil rights lawsuit said their children faced ongoing racial taunts, but the school took no action against the alleged perpetrators.

They argued that their children were racially harassed by students on a daily basis, being called “cotton pickers,” the “N” word, “monkey,” and “poo-skin”; hearing students make “monkey” noises at them on the bus and at school; and hearing students ask for an “N-word pass” and discrimination by school employees.

However, the court ruled that the parents’ allegation that their children’s rights had been violated could not qualify for legal protection under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, since they held that a claim was based not on the law itself but on a violation of a constitutional right could.

However, the ruling said the students could claim that their rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause were violated. It also said the claims of a student no longer enrolled at the school could stand.

In 2021, Foxboro Elementary School student Izzy Tickenor died by suicide after her mother claimed she was bullied without intervention by school staff. Izzy was black and autistic, and a school investigation found they found no direct evidence that the bullying was due to her race or disability.

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