In response to concerns expressed by students and parents, the ACLU of Michigan directed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Plymouth-Canton school district for documents related to any incidents of racial harassment and bullying. The request yielded numerous reports that detailed vile and hateful race-based harassment.
In July 2014, the ACLU of Michigan sent a letter to the school district’s superintendent that listed many of the more disturbing racial incidents and explained why the school district might be in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits schools from subjecting children to a racially hostile educational environment. Further, the letter specified a series of steps the ACLU of Michigan expected the school district to take in order to remedy the problem.
The school district responded quickly and comprehensively by revising reporting and record-keeping practices for racial incidents, creating procedures for following up with victims and helping offenders to learn from their mistakes, requiring all teachers in the school district to undergo training regarding race, human relations and effective educational methods, adjusting the curriculum and instruction methods to ensure that students learn about the historical contributions and accomplishments of all races and civilizations, and other initiatives still in development. The ACLU has continued to monitor racial incident trends using the data collected by school district administrators, and there are plans to develop a case study of the school district's experience.
(ACLU Attorney Mark Fancher.)
To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.