DISMISSED OCR Complaint: Ithaca City School District

OCR Complaints

On March 14, 2023, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Ithaca City School District in Ithaca, New York for discrimination on the basis of race in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance in violation of both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

PDE makes this complaint as an interested third-party organization with members who are parents of schoolchildren throughout the country. PDE and its members oppose discrimination on the basis of race and political indoctrination in America’s schools. The Ithaca City School District is offering race-based affinity programming for students and staff that is not accessible to all. Attached to this complaint is supporting evidence in the form of an online announcement titled “Ithaca City School District: Black Lives Matter At School,” which highlights activities at Ithaca City Schools during “A Week of Action.”

This exhibit reveals the affinity group is only open to “self-identified BIPOC students and teachers” to join this “Caucus (affinity) group” at Ithaca Senior High School (Ex. A at 2). As described by the announcement, a purpose of this race-based affinity group is “to facilitate conversation and develop actional steps towards equity” (Ex. A at 2).

Furthermore, this exhibit shows that only some students may participate in this affinity group. It excludes others — and that this exclusion would be based solely on an individual’s race (Ex. A at 2). As for future “Caucus (affinity) group” programming, that too would confer a benefit on the basis of race that do not appear to be offered to all students and staff at Ithaca Senior High School.

On September 7, 2023 the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights dismissed this complaint. See the letter here.