Terry Townsend’s complaint to the Chicago Office of Civil Rights

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

-Aldous Huxley

 

During the 2005-2006 school year, Champaign Community School District #4 launched a police in the school initiative, in partnership with the City of Champaign, termed School Resource Officer (SRO).
Leaders of both public bodies are well-meaning people. The issue before us is not discriminatory intent, but rather it is discriminatory impact.

 

It’s my contention that the Champaign School District and the City of Champaign SRO has a clear and irrefutable discriminatory impact on African American students, and therefore violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its implementing regulations.

 

Timelines and Statistics

 

Sources: Champaign schools, Champaign police (N.B. Champaign police provide partial statistics for the 2005-2006 school year.) On June 8, 2014 the News-Gazette published Champaign School District SRO arrest statistics. They are telling — and incomplete.

 

From school years 2006-2007 through school years 2013-2014:417 students were arrested. Three hundred fifty-seven were African-Americans. Of the 417 total arrested, 85.6% were African-American. The average percentage of African-American students enrolled at Champaign School District K 7-1.2 schools where the SRO primarily operates: 34.2%.

 

“In the program’s eight year history, police have arrested nearly eight times more black students compared to white students.”

 

June 8, 2014 News-Gazette. The June 15, 2014 News-Gazette editorial notes: “The overwhelming numbers of those arrested are black.”

 

The aforementioned statistics are compelling and suggest that African-American student arrests are a product of racial profiling.

 

As a parent, public official and retired educator, I have a long history of supporting initiatives that keep our kids safe while they are at school. By way of observation, I have learned that SRO initiatives reduce the fear of crime, particularly when there is a racial imbalance between school staff and students. But it would be unprofessional to state other findings because neither the Champaign School District nor the City of Champaign has ever conducted an independent assessment or evaluation of Its SRO initiative.

 

Our children must be protected. All of them. They are not miniature adults. Public organizations must not condone racial discrimination in order to further their objectives.

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6 Responses to “Terry Townsend’s complaint to the Chicago Office of Civil Rights”

  1. Karen Says:

    Disparate impact does not equal (racial) discrimination. How is it that Unit 4 is ‘culpable’ for similar statistics that repeat across the nation? Sadly, I think there is a push Federally??? to essentially lower standards of behavioral conduct via different discpline codes for different races–see Arizona? Florida? will look up later (which is….racist? How would you feel if somebody decided that based upon the color of your child’s skin they should be held to essentially a lower standard?) . Is that helping people grow up to be successful in life (<<civil society needs laws for general sustainable function, whether everybody agrees with them or not—rule of the majority, while protecting the rights of minorities—–does not equal racist–how about functional?) If the behavior of a student is criminal, it will be so whether it occurs in school or out of. Whehter said student is caught doing so, or not. If the SROs are taken out because some erroneously (IMO) think it's their fault that criminal behavior is dealt with as…criminal behavior, the problem of the 'criminalization' of the behavior won't go away, as victims of criminal acts, no matter where they occur, can file police reports, etc. Disparate impact vs. equal protection. Gah.

  2. Karen Says:

    Crimes don’t seek to exist just because SRO officers aren’t in the building, or something.

  3. Karen Says:

    ‘Disparate-impact regulations go beyond the text of Title VI’s prohibition of discrimination “on the ground of race,
    color or national origin,” and the Supreme Court has suggested that it will strike down such regulations if the question is presented. As in other areas of civil rights law, disparate-impact theory creates an incentive to achieve racially proportionate outcomes so as to avoid legal liability, or, in the case of public schools, to avoid the loss of federal funds. Findings regarding whether schools across the nation are discriminating in discipline on the basis of race are mixed at best. The most difficult and crucial job for many schools is maintaining order and discipline so that students are able to learn without disruptions in the classroom. The Department’s use of disparate-impact theory may lead to a reduction in good order and discipline in many schools if school boards and principals believe they must weaken their policies to achieve a racial balance.’

    http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/detail/school-discipline-and-disparate-impact

  4. #EdCampCU, PBF, and the Achievement Framework | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] At the September 28th Board Meeting (held at Centennial), Mr. Terry Townsend spoke about the Letter of Complaint he filed with the Office of Civil Rights. I also had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Townsend in […]


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