On June 29, Stacy Deemar filed a 34-page complaint against the District 65 School Board; Dr. Devon Horton in his official capacity as Superintendent of the District; Dr. LaTarsha Green, in her official capacity as Deputy Superintendent; and Dr. Stacy Beardsley in her official capacity as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
The complaint says that it is brought under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit District 65 “from treating individuals differently because of their race.”
Ms. Deemar is a drama teacher in District 65 and has been a teacher in the District since 2002. The complaint alleges that she identifies as white.
The attorneys for Ms. Deemar include three attorneys with the Southeastern Legal Foundation, in Roswell, Georgia, and two attorneys with the Chicago law firm, Mauck & Baker, LLC.
Summary of the Complaint
The complaint alleges that District 65 has for years engaged in “race-based programming … in the name of racial ‘equity.’” The complaint also alleges that the District has required every teacher to undergo “antiracist training.”
“In the so-called antiracist programming,” the complaint alleges, “District 65 requires its teachers:
“a. To accept that white individuals are ‘loud, authoritative… [and] controlling.’
“b. To understand, ‘To be less white is to be less racially oppressive.’
“c. To acknowledge that ‘White identity is inherently racist[.]’
“d. To denounce ‘white privilege.’
“e. To participate in exercises with individuals of only the same color called ‘affinity groups’—that is, to racially segregate themselves.
“f. To participate in so-called ‘privilege walks,’ a group exercise whereby teachers standing in a line separate from each other in response to the prompt, ‘[b]ecause of my race or color . . . .’”
The complaint then alleges that the District “mandated that teachers impose these racist teachings on their students.”
As examples, the complaint alleges that District 65’s curriculum for Pre-K through eighth grade students teaches:
a. “Whiteness is a bad deal. It always was.”
b. “Racism is a white person’s problem and we are all caught up in it.”
c. Students should consider what it means “to be white but not be a part of ‘whiteness[.]’”
d. “White people have a very, very serious problem and they should start thinking about what they should do about it.”
The complaint provides 11 other examples.
“Throughout its curriculum and programming, District 65 promotes and reinforces a view of race essentialism that divides Americans into oppressor and oppressed based solely on their skin color,” alleges the complaint. “District 65 sets up a dichotomy between white and non-white races that depicts whiteness as inherently racist and a tool of oppression. In furtherance of this ideology, District 65 employs ‘affinity groups,’ whereby it segregates faculty members and students into groups on the basis of race.”
The complaint contains three counts which allege that defendants treated Ms. Deemer differently from her colleagues because of her race “when they intentionally segregated staff meetings by race, offered race-based programming, promoted affinity groups, conducted privilege walks, and maintained policies committed to ‘focusing on race as one of the first visible indicators of identity[.]’”
Count I alleges that the Defendants violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Count II alleges they violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Count III alleges Ms. Deemer was subjected to racial harassment.
The complaint asks the Court to determine that District 65 violated these laws, that the Court enjoin the District from violating the laws and to remedy the alleged wrongs, that the Court award nominal damages of $1, and that it award attorneys’ fees and costs.
After the complaint is served on the defendants, they have 20 days to answer the complaint or to file a motion to dismiss.
This morning, June 30, the RoundTable asked Dr. Horton and District 65 School Board President to comment on the complaint. At the time this article was posted online, neither had submitted a comment. If either or both respond, the RoundTable will update this article.
School District’s 65 Response to the Lawsuit
School District 65 posted the following statement to the District 65 community regarding the above lawsuit. The statement is dated July 10:
“Evanston/Skokie 65 is a diverse school district that is committed to equity and to ensuring that every child gets what they need and deserve to reach their full potential. In District 65, data has demonstrated that there are racially predictable gaps in opportunities for student learning. It is our responsibility to meet every child where they are and to ensure growth. This requires us to be bold in identifying and eliminating practices, policies and barriers that perpetuate institutional racism and cultural biases.
“Last week, our District was named in a lawsuit that is part of a concerted national effort by the Georgia-based Southeastern Legal Foundation to target racial equity-based initiatives in K-12 schools. The District will continue to fulfill the intent and promise of equal protection and nondiscrimination embodied in the Constitution and our nation’s civil rights laws. Unfortunately, this lawsuit subverts these laws and values by taking out of context and misrepresenting our District’s lawful, sensitive and responsible professional learning and student-focused initiatives to advance the important work of building equity in our schools. We plan to vigorously defend against this baseless and inflammatory lawsuit, while not letting it distract us from the important work we are doing as a District community.
“Surrounding the polarizing media coverage of the lawsuit and its characterization of our District, Superintendent Horton received two voice messages containing racial slurs and threats of bodily harm and his car window was broken while parked in a District lot by what appeared to be an intentional act of vandalism. We have reported these incidents to the Evanston Police Department and are cooperating in their ongoing investigation of these hateful actions. District leaders are also carefully reviewing our practices, policies and procedures to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of our schools, educators/staff and students. This will remain a top priority as we prepare for a return to school later this summer.
“The Board of Education and administration of District 65 remain committed to acknowledging and intentionally addressing racial and cultural biases, structures and practices that adversely affect student learning and achievement in a safe and inclusive environment for all.
“Our families, educators/staff and community are valued partners in this work, and we appreciate your continued support of our schools and students.
Sincerely, Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent
Board of Education
Anya Tanyavutti, President
Elisabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan, Vice President
Soo La Kim
Donna Wang Su
Marquise Weatherspoon ”