Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A Massachusetts School District Settles Lawsuit and Agrees to Stop Segregating Students By Race

By BCN Senior Editor

Parents Defending Education

Administrators at Wellesley Public Schools (WPS) in Massachusetts thought it would be a good idea to create “affinity groups” for black, Hispanic, and Asian students and hold school-sponsored and organized group sessions 
only they could attend under the guise of “racial equity.”

Americans made sacrifices to end government-mandated racial segregation. Some of these freedom fighters lost their lives. Young people today might not be as aware of this as they should be. If you are attending a government school, the school may not sponsor any event for students of a certain racial group and bar students from a different racial group from attending that event, or allow students to bar others based on race.

Everyone has a right not to associate with people of a different race on their own time. But your tax-funded government school is breaking the law if it sanctions or mandates this disassociation in student clubs and events.

Parents Defending Education (PDE), which exposed the National School Boards Association’s letter to President Joe Biden that compared parents who attended local school board meetings to domestic terrorists, filed a lawsuit against WPS for what it called (PDF) a “racial segregation policy” that “violates the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.”

The school district this week settled the lawsuit. According to the settlement agreement (PDF), WPS will open affinity group sessions to all students and no longer bar students based on race.

PDE said the settlement also includes ending a “draconian” Bias Reporting System. From the press release (emphasis added):

Shortly after PDE filed suit, WPS suspended the policy, which gave the school the power to punish speech simply because others believed it was “offensive” or showed “conscious or unconscious bias.” This procedure has been replaced and will never be reinstated.

PDE’s lawsuit and the resulting settlement means Wellesley Public Schools may no longer treat students differently on the basis of race while ignoring the guaranteed protections of the Fourteenth Amendment – nor intentionally chill student speech while ignoring the guaranteed protections of the First Amendment.

PDE president Nicole Neily said the organization is “thrilled that Wellesley Public Schools has agreed to respect both the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of its students going forward. This settlement sends a clear message that racially segregating students in public schools is wrong – and there will be consequences. We have spent decades teaching our kids that racial segregation was and will always be wrong. We will not tolerate a return to segregation in 2022.”

The fight isn’t over. PDE said that affinity groups have gained traction in other government school districts.



San Francisco Voters Overwhelmingly Back Recall of Progressive School-Board Members

By Ryan Mills | National Review 

A pedestrian walks past a San Francisco Unified School District office building in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco residents overwhelmingly voted to oust three of the city’s progressive school-board members on Tuesday. It was the culmination of a year-long effort to reform the board, which has been accused of prioritizing social-justice politics over reopening schools and managing the district’s troubled finances during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Returns started coming in around 9 p.m. in California, showing that more than 70 percent of voters supported recalling each of the three candidates: 79 percent voted to recall board member Alison Collins, 75 percent voted to recall board president Gabriela López, and 73 percent voted to recall board member Faauuga Moliga.

Moliga conceded defeat via Twitter shortly after the first returns were released. Turnout for the election was about 24 percent, with 119,718 of the 499,771 registered voters in San Francisco casting ballots, according to the Department of Elections.

Democratic Mayor London Breed will now be tasked with appointing three new members to the seven-member board. Collins, López, and Moliga were the only members of the board who were eligible to be recalled. Their seats are up for election again in November.

“The voters of this city have delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else,” declared Breed in a prepared statement. “San Francisco is a city that believes in the value of big ideas, but those ideas must be built on the foundation of a government that does the essentials well.”

Tuesday’s election marked the end of a year-long recall campaign launched by Siva Raj and Autumn Looijen, two single parents and Bay Area tech professionals spurred to action by their frustration with the board’s refusal to reopen the city’s schools well into the Covid-19 pandemic.

Instead of focusing its efforts on developing a reopening plan, the board has been preoccupied with woke culture war issues, expending energy on changing the admissions process at the highly-selective Lowell High School to boost the number of black and Hispanic students and reduce the number of white and Asian students; rechristening 44 schools named after prominent Americans, including presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington; and a proposal to spend close to $1 million to paint over a historic, 80-year-old mural at a local school that depicts the life of Washington, but also includes outdated stereotypes.

The board became the focus of national ridicule last February after a two-hour debate over whether a gay white dad was diverse enough to join an all-female volunteer parent committee. All the while, the district’s budget deficit ballooned to about $125 million last year, leading California education officials to threaten a state takeover. The California Department of Education sent an expert in last year to help the school board devise a plan to close the gap.

Last March, Collins was stripped of her committee assignments and her title of vice president after recall organizers unearthed a series of anti-Asian tweets from 2016, in which she chastised the Asian-American community for not sufficiently speaking up against Donald Trump.

Momentum for the recall has been building for months. Polling last summer found that about 60 percent of San Francisco residents, and 69 percent of public-school parents, favored the recall. The pro-recall organizers brought in more than $1.9 million for their efforts, dwarfing the roughly $86,000 raised by supporters of the three embattled board members.

Both the the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner endorsed ousting the three board members from their seats, with the Chronicle claiming they “failed irredeemably” to shepherd the district through the pandemic. The Examiner editorial board wrote that the school-board members “put political grandstanding ahead of progress for children,” and turned the board into a “national laughingstock.”

The board members and their supporters alleged the recall was part right-wing plot to politicize public schools and expand charters, and part power-grab by Breed, who publicly supported their ouster. Collins tweeted Tuesday that billionaires are attempting to buy the school board. López has called the recall “an extreme waste of time, energy and money.”

And yet, the recall was supported by a politically-diverse coalition, including mainstream Democrats like Breed, some prominent local progressives, and Republicans and conservatives.

In an interview with National Review last week, Raj and Looijen said that once all the votes are in, they intend to begin screening potential replacements for the board, so they can offer Breed a list of qualified candidates to consider.

Tuesday’s vote represented only the first recall election with the aim of removing progressive city officials this year. In June, voters will decide whether to recall Chesa Boudin, the city’s far-left district attorney.