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US Department of Education investigating state over emergency managers

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio

The US Department of Education is now investigating the state of Michigan over alleged civil rights violations.

The department’s civil rights office was already investigating two civil rights casesagainst the Detroit Public Schools.

“OCR is currently investigating a complaint alleging the Detroit Public Schools District has discriminated against African American and Hispanic students on the bases of race and national origin by closing and/or converting to charter schools a number of district schools,” Education Department Jim Bradshaw said in an email. 

“And, that the district has treated African American students differently by disciplining them for participating in student protests while not disciplining students of other races/national origins who engage in similar protests. “

Helen Moore is with the group Keep the Vote-No Takeover, which filed the so-called Title VI complaints. Title VI is part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Moore says she recently received confirmation that the feds are investigating the state’s role, too.

“They sent me a letter, and said they are truly investigating discrimination against black and brown children in the state of Michigan,” said Moore. “And the state of Michigan is who they are investigating.”

Bradshaw confirmed that, adding: “OCR is also currently investigating a complaint alleging the state of Michigan discriminated against black and Hispanic students and parents in the Detroit Public School District , based on race and national origin…by appointing emergency managers to the district but not appointing emergency managers to similarly situated, predominantly white suburban districts.”

State officials could not be reached for comment on the investigation.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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