Parental rights group files complaint for 'discrimination on the basis of race' against Portland school district

"Portland Teachers will take Gender identity, Race into Account before Disciplining"


On Thursday, parents' rights advocacy group Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a complaint against Portland, Oregon, Public School District (PPS) for allegedly discriminating based on race in its new discipline policy.

In the complaint to the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, PDE claims that the Portland Public Schools has enacted several concerning policies that treat students and educators differently based on race and gender identity."

"Attached to this complaint is supporting evidence in the form of an article 'Portland Teachers will take Gender identity, Race into Account before Disciplining,'" It adds that the district's new "Student Support and Discipline" policy instructs educators to create a discipline plan that "must take into consideration the impact of issues related to the student’s trauma, race, gender identity/presentation, sexual orientation, disability, social emotional learning, and restorative justice as appropriate for the student.”

The policy also uses “restorative justice” as a framework of thought to guide “long-term response[s] to student behavior.” It also requires the maintenance of a "School Climate Team” that is given the task of "ongoing training in implicit bias, antiracism and culturally responsive practices."

The school also cannot "decrease [a school] building’s percentage of minority teachers to less than the student minority percentage in the building" and it cannot lower the percentage of transgender and nonbinary staff to less than 30 percent.

"As the Department of Education is no doubt aware, discrimination on the basis of race raises concerns that Portland Public Schools has received federal funds in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which declares that 'no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance," the group notes.

Vice President of PDE Caroline Moore told Crisis in the Classroom on Friday that the guidelines “make it clear race and gender identity are at the forefront of administrators' minds."

"Moreover, if educators are involved with student discipline disputes, teachers will not be removed from the situation if it would impact the school's educator gender identity quota," she added.

In January 2023, PDE filed a similar complaint against the Portland, Maine, Public Schools after the human resources department promoted the district "BIPOC Community Circle." They claimed that the site also linked to an article, "Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People," which showed that exclusions into the community circle were based solely on race and violated both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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