In response to lawsuit, Indian River District denies racial discrimination allegations

DOVER — As pledged, the Indian River School District is denying allegations of racial discrimination in a federal lawsuit filed by several families and an education coalition group alleging the district uses its alternative school as a dumping ground for African-American students.

“Generally speaking, the district denies the allegations,” said Dave Williams, an attorney with the Morris James law firm that was retained by the school district on Oct. 5.

A detailed, approximate 120-paragraph response to the complaint was filed on behalf of the IRSD on Dec. 5, Mr. Williams said.

In October, Mr. Williams said the complaint lacked merit.

Filed Sept. 30 in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware by the Coalition for Education Reform and several families, the lawsuit claims the Indian River School District dis-proportionally discriminates against African-Americans by using George Washington Carver Academy, an alternative school in the district as a “dumping ground” for black students.

“While touting Carver as a school that specializes in the individual, IRSD, in fact, has historically used Carver as a punitive dumping ground for African American students, removing them from its mainstream and sending them to Carver in disproportionate numbers on flimsy pretexts, segregating them at Carver on arbitrary grounds and for arbitrary periods of time and neglecting their educational needs, including learning disabilities support, while they are at Carver. The Indian River SD does not treat Caucasian students in the same way. These practices deny the individual plaintiffs equal educational opportunity on account of their race, deprive them of appropriate educational services and detract from their employment opportunities,” the lawsuit states.

The suit, submitted by Elle Van Dahlgren, LLC, and Baker & Hostetler LLP, seeks declaratory judgment on claims raised under the U.S. Civil Statutes for injunctive relief, money damages to be determined at trial and plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys’ fees.

According to the lawsuit, IRSD dis-proportionally assigns African-American students to G.W. Carver under the pretext that they are “troublemakers.”

The lawsuit alleges that discriminatory actions of the IRSD violated the:

Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution;

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act;

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and

Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974.

A conference in January 2017 with Judge Richard Andrews will establish the scheduling order, Mr. Williams said.

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