EXCLUSIVE: School Districts Slapped With Civil Rights Complaints Over Racially-Organized ‘Affinity Groups’

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A parental rights organization filed civil-rights complaints against two school districts in Colorado on Friday, alleging they discriminated against parents by race.

Parents Defending Education (PDE) accused the Summit School District and the Greeley-Evans School District of racial discrimination through the creation of “affinity groups” for Hispanic and black parents, respectively, in complaints filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. PDE argued the school districts were seeking to dissuade parents who were not members of certain ethnicities from participating in the affinity groups, which provide parents the opportunity to connect with one another and give feedback to the school district.

For instance, PDE said Summit School District’s superintendent expressed hostility to parental involvement in education, particularly if they were in certain ethnic groups.

“Summit School District has created an atmosphere where some parent groups are tolerated and others are not. Exhibit A emphasizes the District superintendent’s continued frustration with parent concerns raised at ‘District Accountability Committee’ meetings, a parent involvement committee that is required by state law,” the complaint against Summit reads. “Superintendent Byrd openly voices his disgust for involvement of parents involved in this committee, most of whom are white parents.” (RELATED: Dem Rep Claims Parental Rights In Education Bill Will Lead To ‘Hate, Bigotry’ And ‘Death’)

PDE’s complaint noted Summit School District Superintendent Tony Byrd attended a January retreat during which he vented about the involvement of “privileged white people” in volunteer parent groups.

“It just absolutely drains me, and I’m trying to figure out how to manage that,” Byrd said about the District Accountability Committee meetings, according to a report by Summit Daily cited in the complaint. “But it sucks the soul out of me, and those are the people that find me because they [white people] got access.”

PDE’s complaint includes a screenshot of a Spanish-language email sent out to families inviting them to join “Consejo de Familias Hispanas.” The complaint alleges that families were offered gift cards, meals and other inducements to attend.

Screenshot of email invite to Consejo de Familias Hispanas sent by the Summit School District.

Screenshot of email invite to Consejo de Familias Hispanas sent by the Summit School District.

“The email authored by the District’s Community Engagement & Event Coordinator is written in Spanish. This email communication regarding an upcoming affinity group meeting was only sent to Hispanic parents in the district,” the complaint reads. “In addition, all communications about the ‘Consejo de Familias Hispanas’ affinity group including on the website and social media are in Spanish. This creates a barrier to entry for parents who are not fluent in Spanish. Furthermore, indicating participation in this affinity group is designated to specific attendees, solely on the basis of race.”

“It is clear Superintendent Byrd does not like the white parents who voice concerns in his district,” PDE Vice President Caroline Moore told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “He created a parent affinity group that targets Hispanic parents via announcements in Spanish and using a targeted email list, to recruit Hispanic parents, even going so far as to give them gift cards and meals if they attend.”

PDE also filed a complaint against the Greeley-Evans School District after the district announced a Black Family Affinity Group in an email sent to families, which was obtained by PDE and provided to the DCNF.

“Exhibit A presents the District’s ‘Black Family Affinity Group’ as ‘a wonderful opportunity for our Black families to connect with one another,’” the complaint against the Greeley-Evans District says. “A purpose of this affinity group may be to ‘create a supportive and inclusive educational environment for all students’ and share ‘invaluable’ feedback to the District. In addition, the District seeks for Black families to share experiences and ‘engage with District initiatives.’”

Email invitation to a Black Family Affinity Group sent by the Greeley-Evans School District

Email invitation to a Black Family Affinity Group sent by the Greeley-Evans School District

“Admittance into this affinity group appears to be solely based on an individual’s race,” the complaint continues. “While DAC [District Accountability Committee] and SAC [School Accountability Committee] parent volunteer groups are required in all public schools in Colorado, Greeley-Evans District 6 appears to have created an alternative affinity group that only serves Black families.”

PDE filed a similar complaint against the Lower Merion School District in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in January 2023.

“Creating affinity groups for parents solely based on their race is disturbing and unconscionable,” Moore told DCNF. “All parents deserve the right to voice their opinions about district policies in public, no matter their race. Separating parents based on race shows significant systematic issues in the district and is a gateway to instituting this in the classroom.”

“Greeley-Evans School District is a diverse district and often conducts listening sessions for students and parents,” a spokesperson for the Greely-Evans School District told the DCNF. “This meeting was attended by Black, Hispanic, and White families. The meeting was held through the dinner hour, so pizza was provided.”

The Summit School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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