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Sacramento City Unified School district faces a lawsuit alleging discrimination

Black Parallel School Board, other advocacy groups and individuals filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento City Unified School District.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A coalition of nonprofit advocacy groups, on behalf of the Black Parallel School Board and three students, filed a lawsuit Sept. 5 against the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD), Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar, and others. 

The lawsuit alleges districtwide discrimination against students with disabilities, especially black students with disabilities.

Alex Barrios, a spokesperson for the Sacramento City Unified School District sent ABC10 the following statement about the lawsuit filed against the district:

“The District does not comment on potential litigation. However, let it be clear that we will not tolerate any form of discrimination in our schools and are taking these allegations very seriously. We will review the complaint once it is sent to us.”

Ultimately, the groups behind the lawsuit want reform in the district's policies, procedures and practices, according to the lawsuit.

Patty Guinto, a spokesperson for the lawsuit, said in a press release that the district has organized its programs in ways that segregate and denies students with disabilities.

The Black Parallel School Board's lawsuit also alleges that black students with disabilities are punished more harshly and frequently instead of providing services.

"SCUSD routinely violates the rights of students with disabilities, particularly Black children with disabilities, by denying them the services and supports they are entitled to," said Darryl White, chairperson of the Black Parallel School Board. "Instead, the District tends to unfairly segregate and punish these children."

Guinto said that Sacramento City Unified School District had a wake-up call when a report in 2017 said the district was lacking in their approach toward special education and that the district did not change their approach in the two years since the report.

Carly Munson, a spokesperson for Disability Rights California, said that 61.9% of the district's senior students with disabilities graduated from high school in 2018 and that 4.1% of those students were prepared for the next phase in their life, whether college or career.

The groups behind this lawsuit argue that the school district separates the students from others in school and during disciplinary actions.

The group also alleges that the school district promotes a hostile education environment throughout the entire district for students with disabilities and black students with disabilities. The district's actions and failures create lasting harm, including emotional trauma and feelings of stigmatization and isolation Guinto said in the press release.

"The District's mistreatment of students perpetuates biases and stereotypes rooted in slavery and Jim Crow that create a false narrative of Black students as violent, in order to justify segregation, restraint and exclusion," said Attorney Mona Tawatao of the Equal Justice Society.

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