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LA discrimination probe widens to include black students

A U.S. Department of Education investigation into the treatment of non-English speaking students at the Los Angeles Unified School District will also look at possible systemic discrimination against black youth.

The new inquiry will examine the performance and treatment of blacks at five largely black elementary schools in Carson, View Park and Hawthorne with five primarily white elementary schools in Bel-Air, Tarzana, Studio City and Encino. If federal officials find evidence of discrimination, whether intentional or unintentional, they can impose sanctions and suggest remedies.

According to the LA Times, several civil rights leaders received letters from federal authorities confirming the expanded probe after complaining that black concerns were being overlooked.

In March, the Office of Civil Rights publically revealed it was investigating allegations of discrimination against English learners at LAUSD as part of a nationwide examination of the treatment of non-English speaking students.

In a May 21 letter to the Education Department, obtained by the Times, several black leaders charged that the abysmal performance of black students should also be examined:

The message being sent to Los Angeles’ African-American community is that the devastation to black students being caused by the failure of public education is of little consequence to you or your department.

Federal officials insist no slight was intended.

"Our administration is committed to responding to communities and the civil rights issues they confront for all students,” Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights, wrote in her letter to community leaders.

LAUSD has approximately 70,000 African-American students and about 220,000 English learners, most of them Latino. There has been no word on how long such probes will last. LAUSD has said it will cooperate with the federal inquiry.

Filed under: K–12, Daily Report

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