ACLU-MI Commends Federal Investigation into Racially Hostile Environment in Paw Paw Public Schools
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) welcomes the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) decision to initiate a formal investigation into the Paw Paw Public Schools district. This investigation is a direct response to the ACLU’s January complaint regarding the pervasive racially hostile environment in the school district. The OCR states its investigation will determine in part “…whether the District effectively caused, encouraged, accepted, tolerated, or failed to correct a racially hostile environment for Native American persons at its high school.” If the OCR determines the school district’s practices violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the district could lose federal funding.
For years, the Paw Paw Public Schools district has been the focal point for controversy related to racist imagery, language, and mascot used by the high school’s sports program, which includes Native American stereotypes and slurs. There are numerous incidents when people challenged these practices, then were verbally or physically assaulted or intimidated.
Mark Fancher, Racial Justice Project staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, has this reaction:
“The school district has stubbornly refused to even discuss possible changes to make its programs more welcoming for Native Americans and other people of color, making this OCR investigation a victory. We are hopeful that federal scrutiny of the district will prompt concern that leads to reform. The atmosphere in the school district and surrounding community is toxic with respect to this issue. Too many people have suffered because of racial intimidation and resulting fear.”
Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.
The Latest in Racial Justice
Quiz: What You Need to Know About Fair Housing
ACLU Acknowledges Improvements to DOJ Racial Profiling Policy, But Says Far More is Needed
Chinese Immigrants Sue Florida Over Unconstitutional and Discriminatory Law Banning Them From Buying Land
Justice and Safety, Not Fear, Continue to Win at the Ballot Box
The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
Learn More About Racial Justice
The ACLU Racial Justice Program aims to preserve and extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to people who have historically been denied their rights on the basis of race.