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Discriminatory discipline lawsuit can proceed against KHSD

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - A lawsuit filed against the Kern High School District alleging discriminatory discipline practices against black and Latino students is valid and can proceed.

The lawsuit was filed last year by civil rights advocates, including the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

The lawsuit alleges that black and Latino students in KHSD are disciplined at disproportionately higher rates.

The school district challenged the lawsuit, seeking a dismissal. A judge, however, said the suit is valid and it can go forward.

The lawsuit also names the Kern County Office of Education as a defendant.

Thursday, the school district released a statement in response to the judge's ruling, in part saying, "KHSD believes that the plaintiffs' lawsuit not only lacks merit but is also wholly unnecessary because there is no discrimination in the District's student discipline practices."

FULL SCHOOL DISTRICT STATEMENT:

"Yesterday, Judge Bradshaw of the Kern County Superior Court issued a ruling in the student discipline case involving the Kern High School District (KHSD), and other educational agencies. The KHSD and its Board Trustees are very pleased with the Court's ruling, because the ruling found that five of the nine claims asserted against the District were inadequate and improper. The ruling also confirms that the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and other special interest groups, are inappropriate to participate in the lawsuit as plaintiffs for all but one cause of action out of 6 they asserted against the District. And to the extent the court allowed a few limited claims to continue in the litigation that is far from a showing that the claims actually have any merit.

KHSD believes that the plaintiffs' lawsuit not only lacks merit but is also wholly unnecessary because there is no discrimination in the District's student discipline practices. Long before the lawsuit was filed, KHSD was implementing positive behavioral intervention and supports throughout the District (known as "PBIS"), working with outside experts to review the District's discipline data, and training staff to prevent unintended cultural bias in the discipline process. And throughout all of this, the KHSD has maintained safe schools and sound learning environments for its students. KHSD and its Board Trustees hope that plaintiffs will soon acknowledge these efforts and put an end to their unnecessary legal action that is costing the District tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars each month to defend."

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