Civil Right Group Sues School Board over Racial Discrimination, Defamation
A resident of Orange County and a former student of Withlacoochee Technical Institute, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Citrus County School Board for racial discrimination, defamation and false imprisonment.
The complaint, filed by the Florida Civil Rights Association and announced Monday, charges that Lelia Jackson-Burch and Aretha Thomas, both African Americans, were discriminated against when they took the “TABE” exam at the Withlacoochee Technical Institute in April 2010.
After the test, a school official told Jackson-Burch that, “you people (meaning African Americans) don’t score that high,” the complaint alleges. Then school authorities demanded that she re-take the exam and return the test scores previously given to her.
Jackson-Burch refused to re-take the two-hour exam because of the “you people” racial comment.
According to the complaint, after the verbal exchange with school officials, Jackson-Burch attempted to leave the facility, but was prevented from doing so by Citrus County School officials who used their bodies to block her exit. School officials then called 911 as Jackson-Burch refused to return the scores and re-take the exam, the complaint states.
Three Citurs County deputies arrived at the facility to investigate the school’s accusations of Jackson-Burch’s cheating and her attempt to leave the property with the test scores. A warrantless search of her iphone and supporting paperwork, turned up no evidence of cheating, according to the police report, the complaint states.
For over eight months School officials refused to validate Jackson-Burch’s scores, which resulted in her missing out on a planned Nursing class at Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, the complaint states.
“The Citrus County School Board violated state and federal laws by falsely accusing two African American students of cheating simply due to a higher test score than students of the non-African American race,” said Florida Civil Rights Association President J. Willie David, III, in a statement. “This federal lawsuit should send a clear message to all school districts that this civil rights organization will not tolerate discriminatory tactics used to create barriers to public education.”
The School Board reached a settlement with Thomas. Jackson-Burch was unwilling to settle because she wanted the School Board to implement training and issue an apology, the Civil Rights group said. She also felt that the monetary compensation the School Board was prepared to offer fell far short of the loss she experienced.
Both Jackson-Burch and Thomas had purchased books to the tune of $200.00 on math, English and nursing school refresher materials prior to taking the “TABE” exam at the institute, the complaint states.