A parental rights organization filed a civil rights complaint on Wednesday against an Illinois high school for allegedly offering programs and activities exclusively for black and Hispanic students.
“Parents Defending Education (PDE) brings this complaint against Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, Illinois 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 … and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” the complaint reads.
At issue in PDE’s complaint is alleged racial discrimination by IMSA’s Brotherhood Sister Circle (BHSC), which provides so-called “Culturally, Linguistically, and Economically Diverse” students an environment to “learn about the history and current system of oppression in America” and “develop relational leadership skills/stereotype management to confront related issues.” The school launched the program in 2019 to give IMSA’s black and “Latinx” students a chance to “celebrate and enhance their strengths, creativity, intelligence, promote networking, community involvement, financial literacy, resources, and academic success.”
On March 3, 2022, for instance, IMSA sent an email blast to students informing them that BHSC and the school’s office of diversity, equity, and inclusion would be hosting their retreat on March 12, with the school’s director of pre-enrollment programs stating: “Don’t miss this opportunity to meet and connect with other Black and Latinx students, staf[f] and alumni in a forum that celebrates you!” A flyer for the retreat also describes it as an “[e]vent for Black and Latinx students.”
While the name is redacted in the email, IMSA’s director of pre-enrollment programs appears to be Anita White, who, according to her IMSA bio, is “very involved in the efforts to increase the diversity of students in STEM.” In response to the email, IMSA’s director of equity and inclusion, who appears to be Adrienne Coleman, emailed an unidentified IMSA official, asking if they “request[ed] a list of emails for the Black and Latinx students.” The “equity” director further instructed the official to have another unidentified school official “send a letter to parents as well” if such communications had not been sent already.
These communications are just the tip of the iceberg, however. Additional emails obtained by PDE indicate that much of BHSC’s retreat activities were off-limits to students who are not black or Hispanic. On March 8, 2022, a member of IMSA’s yearbook photo team emailed an undisclosed IMSA official, asking if their photographers would need to register and be “Black or Latinx” to attend the event. After inquiring how many team members were planning to attend the retreat, the official — who included Coleman in the response — said that the group’s photographers “may attend the keynote presentation and take photos between1:30 to 2:20,” but that “All of the other sessions are closed sessions.”
In an email to the unidentified official, however, the redacted director of equity and inclusion, who is apparently Coleman, indicated that these “closed sessions” are exclusively reserved for black and Hispanic individuals, writing: “I would ask for Black/Latinx photographers so that pictures can be taken throughout the day.” The official responded that they “have some concerns” about the suggestion, although it’s unclear what the concerns were.
A promo for BHSC’s 2023 event said the goal of the retreats is to “provide Black and Latinx students with additional academic resources and social/emotional support to ensure they have the tools to be successful at IMSA and the global world.”
IMSA previously made headline news in December after numerous students orchestrated a protest and walkout demanding harsher punishments for individuals who have “bias incident reports” filed against them. In their list of demands, demonstrators asked the school to publicize a list of “possible consequences for students following a bias incident report,” including “detentions, removal from leadership positions, suspensions, expulsions, and notification to parents.” They also demanded the high school notify any “potential future colleges” that offending students may consider attending.
As part of its complaint, PDE asked the Department of Education to investigate IMSA over its allegedly discriminatory policies and “act swiftly to remedy unlawful policies and practices, and order appropriate relief.”
This evidence indicates a “deep seated hate towards a specific demographic and [it] cannot be tolerated,” PDE Vice President Caroline Moore told The Federalist.