Massachusetts School Settles Discrimination Suit, Suspends Race-Specific ‘Affinity Groups’

Wellesley Public Schools has settled a discrimination lawsuit launched by non-profit Parents Defending Education on behalf of parents in the district, agreeing to end the use of racial “affinity groups” and any school-sponsored activities that exclude students on the basis of race.

In holding three affinity-based group sessions — one for black and brown students, one for Asian American and Pacific Islander students, and a third for the Black, Indigenous, and people of color community — WPS engaged in racial discrimination, the parent coalition alleged. WPS superintendent Dr. David Lussier had also implemented a racially biased process for responding to complaints of discrimination, the plaintiffs alleged.

After the organization requested a preliminary injunction, Lussier revised the procedure in November and then pledged that he would open all affinity-based listening sessions to students of all races beginning in December. Once WPS granted these concessions, the plaintiffs dismissed their prejudice complaint, PDE announced Tuesday. The superintendent also rescinded the bias procedure totally, promising to never reinstate it.

All future advertisements for affinity-based meetings will include a disclaimer declaring that all are welcome: “This event is open to all students regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.”

The Wellesley victory is an example of grassroots parents joining forces with an organization with resources and a platform to expose critical race theory in practice and counter it with legal action. While the plaintiffs were successful in this town, PDE has identified similar”affinity groups” gaining traction in school districts across the country.

For example, Piedmont Unified School District in California, Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts, and Seattle Public Schools in Washington all hosted similar activities as part of an “anti-racist” curriculum in which students were separated by race, PDE reported.

WPS parents initially raised alarms after the school encouraged students and staff to file complaints against one another for telling rude jokes “that mock a protected group,” referring to the “China virus,” and committing micro-aggressions or other “incidents of bias,” National Review previously reported.

The school system had defined an incident of bias as “any biased conduct, speech or expression that has an impact but may not involve criminal action, but demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias that targets individuals or groups that are part of a federally protected class.”

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