The American Civil Liberties Union and the Bishop Elementary School District have reached a settlement on a harassment and racial discrimination lawsuit that stemmed from an incident at Home Street Middle School in October of 2005.
With racial tensions already high back then after a string of bad incidents, like the Dave Petit murder, the threatening letters from a group calling themselves the Bishop KKK, and reportedly racially motivated fights at the high school, many in the community were upset when the Bishop Police Officer assigned to the schools arrested three Paiute students at the Middle School.
At the time it was reported that an altercation occurred after the School Resource Officer, told a student to remove a bandanna that was in violation of the school dress code. Mark Geyer, then superintendent, reported that bandannas could be considered gang-related.
Several students were suspended after this incident and some were arrested.
After requesting school records, the ACLU reports that they found a long history of harsh disciplinary treatment against Native American students by school officials. An ACLU lawyer reports that Native American students were suspended at roughly four times their percentage in the population.
Elementary School Superintendent Barry Simpson, who was not the superintendent at the time of the incident, reports that he is pleased with the settlement of this case. Simpson said that the settlement should create positive results for students.
The ACLU calls the settlement ground-breaking. According to an ACLU press release, the agreement calls for the removal of the school resource officer, which Superintendent Simpson says was already done two years ago. The students involved will have the incident removed from their records, and school staff will have to start professional development programs to increase respect for different cultures, and to implement culturally appropriate curriculum change.
Superintendent Simpson says that he is glad to put this issue to rest and move forward as a district.