OCR COMPLAINT: Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District

OCR Complaints

On February 24, 2024, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (“Middleton” or “the District”) in Middleton, Wisconsin for discrimination on the basis of race and national origin 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 school children throughout the country. PDE and its members oppose discrimination on the basis of race and political indoctrination in America’s schools. Middleton is offering affinity group programming that is only open to students of certain races. Attached to this complaint is supporting evidence in the form of an email from the Director of Student, Family, and Staff Engagement for Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (Exhibit A).

As Exhibit A makes clear, participation in the “Witnessing Whiteness” affinity group is restricted based on race. Specifically, Middleton’s Director of Student, Family, and Staff Engagement, Mr. Tony R. Dugas, emphasizes that the “affinity space” is “meticulously crafted for white individuals” and is only available “for white attendees” (Ex. A).

The email from Mr. Dugas further states that the purpose of the “Witnessing Whiteness” affinity space is “to build a community with a shared grasp of privilege, whiteness, and racism” and to “enhance[e] [participants’] ability to initiate, support, and deepen racial justice efforts” (Ex. A). The invitation claims that the affinity space “cultivate[s] leadership capacities in the realms of diversity, inclusion, and race” (Ex. A), but by dividing students and parents based on skin color and ethnicity, it is in fact doing the exact opposite.

Accordingly, we ask that the Department promptly investigate the allegations in this complaint, act swiftly to remedy unlawful policies and practices, and order appropriate relief.