School Race Discrimination Lawsuit Brought by Students Represented by Nichols Kaster and Madia Newville Survives Summary Judgment and Can Go to Trial

Two Minnesota students have defeated their former school district’s motion for summary judgment in their race discrimination case. On August 1, 2022, United States District Court Judge Michael J. Davis of the District of Minnesota denied the motion by Eastern Carver County Schools, allowing the students’ case to proceed to trial.

The students, who are both Black, brought this case in 2019, alleging that the racially hostile environment and discrimination they experienced at the school district violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution pursuant to Section 1983. They alleged that the school district allowed racism to permeate its schools for years, with students of color being attacked by their peers with slurs, including the N-word, “monkey,” and “Fat Albert.” They saw their faces imposed on a social media image titled “Negro Hill.” Swastikas were drawn on school property, and students repeatedly engaged in blackface, an incident that even made it into the school yearbook. Throughout it all, the students allege the district failed to take any meaningful action in response to parents’ and students’ repeated complaints and exhibited clear bias in favor of white students. Both students suffered emotional trauma and substantial disruption to their education and ultimately left the district.

But now, after nearly three years of litigation, the district’s attempt to avoid trial on these issues has been defeated. “Our clients have displayed incredible bravery in sharing their painful and deeply personal stories to seek accountability,” said the students’ attorney Anna P. Prakash of Nichols Kaster, PLLP. “This case continues to demonstrate how students have a powerful voice in seeking change and advocating for public schools to be a place where all students can safely learn and thrive.”

The Plaintiffs are represented by Matthew H. Morgan, Anna P. Prakash, Laura A. Baures, and Melanie A. Johnson of Nichols Kaster, PLLP, and Joshua A. Newville of Madia Newville LLC. The case is T.B., et al. v. Independent School District 112, a/k/a Eastern Carver County Schools, 0:19-cv-02414, and is filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.