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Friday, March 31, 2006

Native Students/ACLU Sue Racist South Dakota Schools

ACLU Fights to End Discriminatory Prosecution of Native American Students (3/28/2006)
National “School-to-Prison-Pipeline” Trend Exemplified in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, SD – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against the Winner School District in South Dakota, charging that the District maintains an environment hostile to Native Americans by, among other things, disciplining Native American students more harshly than Caucasians and by forcing them to sign “confessions” for minor rule- breaking, which often leads to juvenile court convictions.

“The treatment received by Native American students in Winner and throughout the region is completely different than that of their white counterparts,” said Jennifer Ring, Executive Director of the ACLU of the Dakotas. “These experiences demonstrate the reasons why Native American children so often fail to reach graduation -- hostility of peers, discrimination of school officials and knee-jerk police involvement.”

ACLU national staff attorney Catherine Kim said the problems in Winner are part of a nationwide trend of “get tough” policies on school misconduct, which lead to increases in suspensions for trivial conduct and the use of law enforcement to handle minor school discipline. According to Kim, research consistently shows that students of color are far more likely than Caucasian students to feel the brunt of this trend, which advocates refer to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

More information is available at: www.aclu.org/crimjustice/juv/schooltoprisonpipeline.html

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