Parents Defending Education’s lawsuit against Wellesley Public Schools has ended in a settlement agreement that will end “affinity groups” that exclude students on the basis of race. Wellesley Public Schools issued a statement that it never should have – and never will again – suggest to parents that their children can be excluded from school-sponsored events because of their race. And if the district holds “affinity groups” in the future, it must clearly and unequivocally state that such events are open to all students regardless of race.
PDE’s suit also challenged Wellesley Public School’s draconian “Bias Reporting Procedure.” Shortly after PDE filed suit, WPS suspended the policy, which gave the school the power to punish speech simply because others believed it was “offensive” or showed “conscious or unconscious bias.” This procedure has been replaced and will never be reinstated.
PDE’s lawsuit and the resulting settlement means Wellesley Public Schools may no longer treat students differently on the basis of race while ignoring the guaranteed protections of the Fourteenth Amendment – nor intentionally chill student speech while ignoring the guaranteed protections of the First Amendment.
“Parents Defending Education is thrilled that Wellesley Public Schools has agreed to respect both the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of its students going forward,” said Parents Defending Education president Nicole Neily. “This settlement sends a clear message that racially segregating students in public schools is wrong – and there will be consequences. We have spent decades teaching our kids that racial segregation was and will always be wrong. We will not tolerate a return to segregation in 2022.”
Unfortunately, race-based “affinity groups” have gained traction beyond Wellesley; other public school districts with similarly exclusive “affinity groups” include:
- (CA) Piedmont Unified School District
- (CO) Denver Public Schools
- (IN) Indianapolis Public Schools (for staff)
- (MA) Milton Public Schools
- (MA) Newton Public Schools
- (MD) Howard County Public Schools
- (MI) Farmington Public Schools (for staff)
- (NY) Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning High School
- (NY) Lower Manhattan Community School
- (OH) Olentangy School District (for staff)
- (VA) Henrico County Public Schools (for staff)
- (WA) Seattle Public Schools
- (Washington DC) DC Public Schools (for caregivers and parents)
In addition, PDE’s “Consultant Report Card” has identified several consultants who explicitly advocate these segregated programs:
- In a March 23, 2021, contract with New Castle County Vocational Technical School, Lori L. Speaks, a consulting firm based in Wilmington, De., said it would host 10 weekly “affinity group facilitation” for 1.5 hours and provide other services. It was paid $22,000 for the consulting contract.
- In a Nov. 12, 2020, email with Forest Park School District 91, National Equity Project said it would lead “Role-Alike Affinity Groups to build leadership capacity and skill.”
- In purchase requisition No. 7622911, approved on May 13, 2021, Chicago Public Schools agreed to a $20,000 contract in which National Equity Project said it would again lead “Role-Alike Affinity Groups to build leadership capacity and skill.”
- Glenn Singleton, founder of the Pacific Educational Group, a consulting firm, includes “affinity groups” as a cornerstone of his “equity” and “diversity” plans for school districts.
- As far back as October 2008, Pacific Educational Group led “Affinity Groups” in its “Beyond Diversity” training on “Examining Whiteness” in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, N.C.
- In a more recent consulting agreement with New Haven Public Schools, the consulting firm included the resume of Roberto Soto-Carrion, a lead “racial equity trainer,” and noted that he is a trained facilitator of “Racial Affinity Groups/Caucus.”
- In Fort Worth School District, where Pacific Educational Group has had extensive contracts, the school district says in a document that its “equity specialist responsibilities” include: “Designs and leads equity discussions, focus groups, affinity groups…” It also states that the activities of a group led by Pacific Educational Group, called “SOAR (Students Organized for Anti-Racism),” include “racial affinity spaces.” The school district’s contract includes the consulting firm developing the “SOAR” activities.