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District 65 School Board and administrators on Aug. 30 filed a motion to dismiss the complaint that was filed against them by Stacy Deemar in the United States District Court in Chicago on June 29.
The complaint alleges that defendants treated Deemar 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[.]’”
The complaint contains three counts. 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 Deemar was subjected to racial harassment. The complaint is summarized here.
A memorandum filed by the defendants argues that the complaint should be dismissed because Deemar lacks standing to bring the claims because the complaint fails to allege that she suffered injury traceable to District 65’s equity programs, and because she lacks standing to vindicate the rights of students.
The memorandum argues that the complaint fails to state an actionable claim under the Equal Protection clause or Title VI because Deemar’s claims do not fall within the zone of interests that Title VI protects, and because she was not the intended beneficiary of the District’s educational programming.
The memorandum also argues that the complaint does not allege the existence of a hostile work environment.
The Court has set the case for a status hearing on Sept. 15, at which time the Court will likely determine how to proceed.
On Aug. 30, the District 65 School Board and Superintendent Devon Horton issued a prepared statement regarding their motion to dismiss the case, which is set forth in its entirety below:
“As previously communicated, last month, Evanston/Skokie District 65 was named in a lawsuit filed by a part-time teacher. Today, the District filed a motion to dismiss this baseless and inflammatory lawsuit, which takes out of context and misrepresents our District’s curriculum and training to advance the important work of building equity in our schools. Based on public comments by the plaintiff’s attorneys, we believe that this legal action is part of a concerted national effort by the Georgia-based Southeastern Legal Foundation to target racial equity-based initiatives in K-12 schools.
“District 65 is a diverse, multi-racial 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 long-standing racially predictable gaps and inequities 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 adopting lawful, sensitive and responsible policies, educator training, curriculum and other student-focused initiatives to address the challenge of institutional racism and other cultural biases, including those related to income, disability status, language barriers, gender and sexual identity.
“We will not be deterred or intimidated from this important work. District 65 will continue to fulfill the intent and promise of equal protection and nondiscrimination embodied in the Constitution and our nation’s civil rights laws. The District 65 Board of Education and Administration 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.
“Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent
“Board of Education: Anya Tanyavutti, President, Elisabeth “Biz” Lindsay-Ryan, Vice President, Joseph Hailpern, Sergio Hernandez, Soo La Kim, Donna Wang Su, Marquise Weatherspoon.”