FARMINGTON, Utah — A new lawsuit will see the Davis School District and three employees as defendants in a case involving racial harassment and differences in discipline for white and Black students.
The student, identified by the initials S.S., is described as a Black 9th grader in the district who possesses “excellent” grades and is a swim team member.
Allegedly, the student has faced racial harassment from classmates and discrimination regarding disciplinary action. In response, S.S. has experienced declining grades, severe anxiety, and severe stomach aches before going to school following several incidents, such as students calling S.S. a “cotton picker” and asking for a pass to use the N-word toward him, among other incidents.
The lawsuit lists three causes of action, which include intentional discrimination and violation of Title VI, a cause of action claiming the defendants “deprived S.S. of his federal constitutional rights” by not equally applying discipline, and a breach of contract. Under the settlement agreement, the student, S.S., is an “intended beneficiary” and is entitled to enforce it.
The lawsuit also alleges the district “has not appropriately implemented interim rules, policies, and procedures” and that the student has been damaged.
In an interview with KUTV2, president of the Salt Lake branch of the NAACP and tri-state conference, Jeanetta Williams, mentioned that the school district is meeting regularly with the NAACP to discuss how they’re handling the situation.
“I do know for a fact that the concerns are being addressed on a regular basis and that the school district is putting things in place hopefully to remedy these things that have been going on in the past and making sure that they do not continue to happen,” Williams told KUTV2.
In regards to the situation, the district issued the following statement,
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.
Since the October 2021 agreement, the Davis School District has:
- 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 Mar. 31.
- The district submitting complaint procedures to the Department of Justice by Mar. 31.
- The district submitting a professional development plan to the Department of Justice by Mar. 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.