It’s been more than a year since the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Youth Law filed a lawsuit against Eureka City Schools alleging that administrators failed to stop racial and sexual harassment of black and Native American students. Now comes word that the two sides have reached a settlement agreement, with the school district agreeing to implement a series of measures aimed at improving the situation.
Here’s a press release from the National Center for Youth Law:
Eureka City Schools has reached a settlement agreement that resolves a lawsuit filed last year by the National Center for Youth Law and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. Under the agreement, the district will implement a community-wide collaborative process aimed at cultivating a positive and inclusive school climate where all students feel welcome and safe.
The wide-ranging settlement was reached following a collaborative process involving the parties and their attorneys. The lawsuit alleged discrimination against Native American and Black students and accused administrators of failing to stop racial and sexual harassment. The settlement is not an admission of liability, and district officials have disputed a number of allegations in the lawsuit since the time it was filed.
“We are pleased that school officials in Eureka are willing to take these positive steps, and are hopeful that this agreement will result in Eureka City Schools being a place where all students, regardless of race, gender, or disability will receive equal educational opportunities and the chance to reach their full academic potential,” said Michael Harris, senior attorney for the National Center for Youth Law.
Eureka City Schools Superintendent Fred Van Vleck said, “The settlement will benefit students. The measures the district will take under the agreement are good for the students and we welcome them.”
Under the settlement agreement, the school district agrees to establish goals for enhancing multi-cultural curricula, providing students with disabilities appropriate accommodations and services, and reducing race and disability based disparities in discipline and transfers to alternative schools. The district also will also contract with an Oregon-based research group to conduct a district-wide assessment of the school climate, with a particular focus on any issues related to racial/gender equity and student discipline.
This research group will prepare a report detailing the findings of its assessment and present their findings by March 1, 2015, at a special meeting of the Board of Trustees dedicated to soliciting feedback from the public about the report and about school climate in general. The report will be made available to the public at least 72 hours before the special meeting.
After receiving feedback, the group will issue a final assessment report no later than May 1, 2015, which may include recommendations about changes to policies and practices to improve school climate. Within 90 days after accepting the report, the Board of Trustees will review and accept for approval the recommendations and determine how best to implement them.