The Pearl River School District filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education last week in the hopes of overturning a ruling that it did not properly investigate the alleged racial harrassment of an Ardsley High School Student last year.
The accusation claimed that somebody in the student section during a boys basketball game at Pearl River High School Feb. 18, 2011 shouted a racial slur at an Ardsley player.
The lawsuit, filed April 12 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, counters the claim that the district did not comply with anti-descrimination laws and failed to take appropriate action regarding the complaint.
The district's investigation found no evidence to support the accusation of racial harrassment. The district interviewed 31 people who were in attendance, reviewed a videotape of the basketball game and spoke with Ardsley staff members who spoke with Ardsley students.
Five days after the game last February, the mother of the Ardsley student filed a complaint with the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights accusing the Pearl River School District of descrimination on the basis of race and failing to properly investigate the incident.
"The District is fully committed to ensuring that students, staff and visitors to our schools conduct themselves in a manner that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of our community," Pearl River Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Morgano said. "Our actions in investigating the complaint regarding the alleged February 18, 2011 incident was in all respects consistent with this commitment. We are optimistic that the appeal will correct the record and result in OCR’s baseless finding being overturned."
Nov. 15, 2011, the district entered into a resolution agreement with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The district agreed to review and revise its anti-descrimination policy and share it with students, staff and the public.
Despite the agreement, the OCR concluded that the district's investigation was insufficient and incomplete and that the incident happened as the Ardsley student's mother claimed.
The district's lawsuit also names Education Secretary Arne Duncan as a co-defendant.