Massachusetts Public School District Must End Race-Based ‘Affinity Groups’ Following Lawsuit

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Chrissy Clark Education Reporter
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A public school district in Massachusetts agreed to end its race-based “affinity groups” and “bias reporting system,” according to a settlement agreement published Monday by the concerned parent organization Parents Defending Education (PDE).

PDE filed a lawsuit against Wellesley Public Schools in 2021 after the district hosted three race-based “affinity group” sessions and implemented a “bias reporting” system, which allowed the district to punish students if their speech was dubbed “offensive” or showed “conscious or unconscious bias.” The parent-led organization argued that affinity groups “exclude students on the basis of race.”

The settlement concluded that the district can still hold so-called “affinity groups,” though it must “clearly and unequivocally state that such events are open to all students regardless of race.” Students can no longer be barred from attending events because of their skin color. (RELATED: Parent-Led Organization Sues School For Segregating ‘Affinity Groups’ Be Race And Punishing ‘Unconscious Bias’)

The district’s bias reporting system “has been replaced and will never be reinstated,” according to a press release from PDE.

The lawsuit was filed after the district implemented its bias reporting system at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, according to the settlement. In 2021, the district held three affinity-based group sessions, one for “Black and Brown students and alumni” in February, another for “Asian or Asian American and Pacific Islander students (AAPI), faculty/staff, and others within the [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] community” in March. A final session was held in April for Asian-American and Pacific Islander students.

PDE alleged that “certain communications made in advance of these sessions sent a message that affinity-based group sessions were not intended for students of certain races.”

On Dec. 21, 2021, Wellesley’s superintendent filed an affidavit stating that “any WPS affinity-based listening sessions or meetings held in the future will remain open to the WPS student body at large” and “WPS does not and will not identify affinity-group sessions as being only for certain racial groups.”

The parent group claims the settlement is a victory for the Constitution and the rights of students.

“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,” a statement from the organization reads.

Nicole Neily, the president and founder of PDE, said the settlement concludes that race-based segregation will not be tolerated.

“This settlement sends a clear message that racially segregating students in public schools is wrong – and there will be consequences,” Neily said. “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.”

Wellesley Public Schools did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.