REFERRED OCR Complaint: Portland Public Schools

OCR Complaints

On January 3, 2023, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Portland Public Schools in Portland, Maine for discrimination on the basis of race, color or 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 that opposes racial discrimination and political indoctrination in America’s schools. Attached to this complaint is supporting evidence in the form of the district’s Human Resources page on Affinity Groups (Exhibit A), which promotes the district’s “BIPOC Community Circle”, which can also be found online at

This exhibit reveals that Portland Public Schools’ “BIPOC Community Circle” is only open to staff of specific ethnicities (“The BIPOC Community Circle welcomes all Black, Indigenous, Asian, Middle-Eastern, Latinx, and mixed race staff members,” Ex. A at 2). The program description does not make participation in this affinity group open to all.

Indeed, the site’s link to the article “Why People of Color Need Spaces without White People” serves to further underscore that not all staff members would be welcome – and that this exclusion would be based solely on an individual’s race. (Ex. A at 2)

The website also notes that staff who participate in this program receive additional benefits on the basis of race which do not appear to be offered to all staff members (“We hold regular social gatherings and provide career pathways support and emotional support and advocacy.” Ex. A at 2.)

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.

On February 13, 2023 the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights referred this complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. See the letter here.