Attorney Paul Kinne of Gingras, Thomsen and Wachs Lawyers recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Rocori School District (RSD) in central Minnesota for actions violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal funding or other financial assistance, while Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity under any educational program or activity receiving federal funding or financial assistance.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Andrea Robinson, a Cold Spring, Minnesota, resident whose children endured repeated instances of racist bullying and harassment while at school.
On multiple occasions, Robinson’s multiracial children were called racist slurs and threatened in classrooms and hallways. They were additionally threatened while riding the bus to and from school.
The lawsuit also cites a specific incident in which a student who racially and sexually harassed one of Robinson’s children and made lynching threats via Snapchat was recognized with a “Rocori Proud” award — after the school district received evidence of the harassment.
When confronted with these examples, RSD showed deliberate indifference. Instead of intervening, teachers and staff targeted the Robinson children for discipline.
“Officials were incredibly dismissive of the concerns and would just instinctively side with the harassers,” said Paul Kinne. “That simply compounded the kind of harassment the kids were facing.”
According to the complaint, numerous officials in the school district had received actual notice that the children were subjected to an offensive and racially hostile educational environment for years. By continuously disregarding the racial harassment, or failing to reasonably intervene to prevent it, RSD allowed the hostile environment to occur, which was in direct violation of Title VI.
Robinson’s lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages to compensate for the economic, physical and emotional losses suffered.
“First and foremost, Andrea Robinson would like to see meaningful change at the school,” Kinne said. “Not just here, but everywhere. She wants to send a message so kids like her kids don’t have to go through this ever again, anywhere else.”
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