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Civil rights complaint brought against Ann Arbor Pioneer High School

the exterior of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
Dwight Burdette
Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

A Black high school student has filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, alleging violations of Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on "religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status" in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations.”

“We are alleging that she has faced — and other Black students have faced — a racially hostile environment at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor,” said Liza Davis of the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative at the University of  Michigan Law School, which assisted with the complaint.

While one teacher is singled outin the complaint, current and past students of color also made complaints ranging from being treated as second class citizens to being called a “hooligan waiting to be a delinquent in life.”

“Because the institution is only dealing with individual complaints, they have not been recognizing that this is a systemic problem,” Davis said.

The Pioneer students and alumni also alleged the school has a disproportionate number of white teachers.

“You know, most students that we spoke to could only recall two to three black teachers in the entire high school. And this is a school that has over 1,800 students and 47% minority population of students," Davis said.

A spokesperson for the Ann Arbor Schools, Andrew Cluley, responded in an email to say the district would not comment on personnel processes or pending litigation, but did say the district is strongly against “any and all acts of racism, bigotry, and bias.”

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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