A civil rights complaint has been filed against the Illinois Math and Science Academy, an advanced public school in Aurora, by the group Parents Defending Education (PDE). The complaint, submitted to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, focuses on the school’s racially focused programs, specifically honing in on the Brotherhood Sister Circle (BHSC), an affinity club seemingly exclusive to black and Latino students. The complaint alleges that such practices are discriminatory and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
According to the complaint, the BHSC organizes an annual retreat exclusively for black and “Latinx” students. This restriction is based on race and sex, prompting concerns about unequal treatment within the school community. Parents Defending Education contends that these practices contribute to an environment of discrimination and violate fundamental principles of civil rights.
Information regarding the affinity club and retreat was obtained by PDE through public information requests. Correspondence revealed specific requests made during retreat preparations, including the preference for a black or “Latinx” photographer and the exclusion of white male students from participation.
Caroline Moore, Vice President of PDE, expressed deep concerns, stating that forbidding white male students from participating in the affinity group’s activities showcases “deep-seated hate” towards a specific demographic. The complaint emphasizes the need for a transparent and equitable approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in educational institutions.
While the Illinois Math and Science Academy defended its program, affirming a commitment to providing opportunities for students to celebrate their culture and discuss identity-related issues, critics argue that such practices undermine the principles of equal treatment and nondiscrimination.
This civil rights complaint adds to the ongoing national debate surrounding the role of race and identity in educational institutions. The outcome of this case could have broader implications for schools’ approaches to diversity and inclusion, emphasizing the importance of transparency and compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws. As the controversy unfolds, it raises questions about how schools can strike a balance between fostering an inclusive environment and ensuring equal treatment for all students.