Portland Public Schools Face Civil Rights Complaint For Disciplinary Policy That Factors In Race, Gender Identity

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An education advocacy group hit Portland Public Schools (PPS) with a federal civil rights complaint Thursday over a policy that requires factoring students’ race and gender identity into disciplinary decisions.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) alleges in its federal civil rights complaint that PPS is violating civil rights law and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment through its new “Student Support and Discipline” policy, which requires educators to respond to “disruptive student behavior” by developing a behavior support plan that considers characteristics like race. The policy also requires the school district to assign educators based on race and gender identity.

“Portland Public Schools has enacted several concerning policies that treat students and educators differently based on race and gender identity,” the complaint alleges. “For instance, Portland Public Schools is disciplining some students and not others, solely based on immutable characteristics.” (RELATED: Group Seeking To Push ‘Racial Balancing’ In Public Schools Has The Backing Of Major Left-Wing Donors)

LOUISVILLE, KY – JANUARY 11: Unused desks are seen in an empty elementary school classroom during a period of Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) at Hazelwood Elementary School on January 11, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

The policy states that behavior support plans “must take into consideration the impact of issues related to the student’s trauma, race, gender identity/presentation, sexual orientation, disability, social emotional learning, and restorative justice as appropriate for the student.”

For teacher assignments, the new policy prevents the district from transferring an educator when doing so “would decrease the building’s percentage of under-represented male or female or transgender/nonbinary/gender non-conforming professional educators to less than thirty percent” or “decrease the building’s percentage of minority teachers to less than the student minority percentage in the building or below the percentage of minority professional educators in the District,” according to PDE’s complaint.

The policy also requires schools to maintain a “School Climate Team” that handles “ongoing training in implicit bias, antiracism and culturally responsive practices,” according to KATU 2 ABC.

PPS and the Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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