Victor Valley Union High School District To Revise Its Policies Following Discrimination Against Black Students
“The Victor Valley Union High School District is committed to providing the best possible educational outcomes for all students,” district spokesman Kris Reilly said.
by Danteé Ramos
August 23, 2022 at 12:19 am
A school district in the Victor Valley of San Bernardino County, southern California, had discriminated against Black students by punishing them more frequently and harshly than white students.
Black students in the Victor Valley Union High School District have been discriminated against more frequently and disciplined more harshly than others.
According to the California Department of Education, the district, which serves around 11,000 students in Victorville, agreed to a resolution agreement with the department’s Office for Civil Rights on Tuesday.
“I applaud the Victor Valley Union High School District’s commitment today to rectify the harms its discipline practices caused to Black students and to ensure nondiscrimination in school discipline going forward,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a department news release announcing the resolution agreement.
“The Victor Valley Union High School District is committed to providing the best possible educational outcomes for all students,” district spokesman Kris Reilly wrote in an email Tuesday afternoon. “Even before the conclusion of the OCR analysis, the district began taking steps to increase equity for our students.”
The department’s Office for Civil Rights report shared that one principal told investigators that Black students receive harsher punishments because they are “loud” and it’s their “culture.”
Another teacher said their practices were “a cultural thing” and that “there seem to be a lot of African American kids who think fighting is a solution to everything.”
The investigation launched in 2014 found that the district disciplined Black students to a greater degree than white students and failed to maintain and produce timely, accurate, and complete records regarding school discipline, the L.A. Times reports.
The district said that prior to the investigation closing, the district officials “began taking steps to increase equity for our students; we expect to see marked improvement in the discipline data for our students of color, particularly African-American students.”
School staff revealed systemic discriminatory behavior outlined in a letter to the district.
For instance, one administrator recounted the case of a Latina student who tased another student, was expelled for a semester, and then allowed to return to school. A Black student who had acted threateningly toward a security officer, but was not violent, was expelled for more than one semester.
The district’s commitments under the resolution agreement include investigating the reasons for racial disparities in the district’s discipline practices and putting a corresponding corrective action plan into place, hiring a director with experience in nondiscriminatory discipline practices to assist the community in putting the corrective action plan and the agreement into practice and creating a stakeholder equity committee to guide program implementation.
Following other agreements, the district must update its discipline policies and practices, including those relating to the involvement of law enforcement in school discipline. It also commits to regularly analyzing student discipline data to spot and address any potential instances of discrimination, training staff on the updated discipline policies and practices and publicly disclosing disaggregated discipline data.
It will also conduct school climate surveys to assess perceptions of fairness and safety and provide compensatory education to students subjected to discriminatory practices.