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Steven A. Greenburg, Education Law
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Lawsuit brought on behalf of Native American students

Two California school districts are the subject of allegations made concerning their treatment of Native American students. At both schools, questionable practices have been alleged that could lead to the perpetuating of inaccurate stereotypes concerning Native American individuals. There have also been accusations of a disproportionate amount of suspensions of Native Americans - often for what has been deemed minor infractions.

These lawsuits allege that school officials fostered a racially hostile environment for Native American and African-American students. "These were schools where students were being subjected regularly to racial slurs and sexual harassment, but nothing was being done," stated one attorney. It is said that school officials never made serious efforts to stop the claimed harassment that was occurring.

In one of the school districts, 60 percent of out-of-school suspensions reportedly involved Native American, though Native American individuals made up less than one-third of the student population. One education services director felt these circumstances came about because Native American students were pushed into continuation schools where there may be no focus towards college preparation.

At least one student was said to have been sent to a continuation school for "credit recovery" when the claimed purpose of these schools is for dealing with students who have had a history of behavioral type issues. This is purportedly a common practice involving Native American students.

There are attorneys whose focus is primarily upon education issues. These are attorneys that understand both state and federal laws pertaining to education, and who will focus in primarily on correcting the damaging practices that may be in place at our schools.

Every child attending school has their own set of individual needs that will have to be met for that schooling to be successful. However, when school officials fail to implement policies that meet these individual needs or look the other way at potentially harmful practices, the child is the person that ultimately is hurt the most.

Source: Indian Country, "Lawsuit Against California Districts Allege Abuse of Native Students," Marc Dadigan, Dec. 24, 2013

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