DAVIS COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Six months after reaching a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for racial discrimination, the Davis School District finds itself in hot water again with a new lawsuit alleging that a Black student was slapped by another student in front of a teacher.
The lawsuit which was filed on March 23, alleges that a Black student, a ninth-grader, was slapped by a white student during a school assembly, after being asked to quiet down.
Court records state that the incident, which took place in December 2021, was witnessed by a teacher. The teacher allegedly did not approach or remove the student who had assaulted the other student.
Instead, the teacher approached the Black student informing them that they will be receiving a “U” (unsatisfactory) grade for their conduct during the assembly.
When the student contested, the teacher admitted that she saw what the white student had done, but explained that he should have been “tapping” another student during the assembly, court records state.
The lawsuit brings up an incident that also happened in February 2022 where the Black student observed his counterparts using illegal substances in the bathroom. When the student reported what he saw to the teacher, the Black student was accused of having illegal substances, and the school secretary demanded and searched the student’s backpack. Nothing was found.
According to the lawsuit, the district does not search the backpacks of the white students “who witness a fellow student using illegal contraband on the premises.”
On that same day, the Black student was called to the District’s Vice-Principal Office where he was demanded to explain repeatedly what he had done with a female student. After admitting to kissing the student, the vice principal continued to demand the student to tell him “the rest of the story.”
Following those incidents, the student has suffered from severe anxiety, and severe stomach aches before going to school each day, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also states that these incidents are a “breach of contract” due to a settlement agreement the district entered into with the DOJ back in October. The DOJ found over 200 incidents of alleged racial discrimination.
The settlement stated that the Davis School District will:
- create a new department to handle complaints of race discrimination;
- train staff on how to identify, investigate, and respond to complaints of racial harassment and discriminatory discipline practices;
- inform students and parents of how to report harassment and discrimination;
- create a centralized, electronic reporting system to track and manage complaints and Davis’s response to complaints;
- implement student, staff, and parent training and education on identifying and preventing race discrimination, including discriminatory harassment;
- analyze and review discipline data and amend policies to ensure non-discriminatory enforcement of discipline policies; and
- develop a districtwide procedure to assess requests for student groups and treat such requests fairly.
In a statement, the Davis School District said:
“We cannot comment on pending litigation. However, the Davis School District is taking extensive steps since entering an agreement with the Department of Justice to eliminate racial harassment and discrimination at all levels. The district takes all complaints of racial discrimination and harassment seriously and handles each with as much care and compassion as possible.”
The district also says since the October 2021 agreement they have:
• Implemented active and constant training to more than 9,800 employees — including all district administrators, department heads, principals, assistant principals, and coaches — at all 92 schools to prevent and address racial harassment and discriminatory discipline. The training has been approved by the Department of Justice.
• Hired the “Safeguarding Group,” a third-party consultant approved by the Department of Justice to assist the district with work associated with the settlement.
• Hired Dr. Jacqueline Thompson as a new assistant superintendent to focus on diversity and equity issues.
• Created an Office of Equal Opportunity with a new director (hire pending) and three district-level coordinators to receive, investigate and resolve complaints of racial harassment and discrimination. A group of school equity opportunity investigators will also be created to respond to complaints.
• Partnered with Hill Air Force Base leaders, the Davis County Commission and First Lady Abby Cox in efforts to increase inclusion and end discrimination and racism.
• Established a No More, Not Here campaign throughout its schools in an effort to end racism, bullying and harassment of any kind.
• Begun partnering with interfaith leaders across the Wasatch Front to eliminate racial harassment in Utah.
It will also be adhering to the following timeline with regard to:
• The Safeguarding consultant group providing a report and recommendations about district policies and practices by March 31.
• The district submitting complaint procedures to the Department of Justice by March 31.
• The district submitting a professional development plan to the Department of Justice by March 31.
• The Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity coming on board April 24.
• Developing a Department of Justice-approved central Reporting and Complaint Management System by April 30.
• Submitting a School Cultural and Climate Improvement Plan to the Department of Justice by May 27.