School district backpedals on non-white event promo when hit with discrimination accusation

The Ithaca City School District got itself into some hot water after promoting an event that discriminated on the basis of race.

The New York school district proudly promoted the Students of Color Summit 2024 event, which prompted The Equal Protection Project (EPP) to send a strongly worded letter to Superintendent Dr. Luvelle Brown as well as Board of Education President Dr. Sean Eversley Bradwell. The EPP opposes racial discrimination in all of its forms, including anti-white discrimination.

A copy of a flier advertising the event, obtained by Fox News Digital, reportedly boasted that “students of color” were invited to attend the event. The EPP demanded that all documents related to the event be saved, as they had plans to make FOIL requests. They allege that an email was sent around by employees of the school indicating that the event was “for students of color to interact with each other” and others, even “allies” of racial causes, were not allowed to attend.

“We understand in this context that the word ‘allies’ refers to White students and staff. In fact, the message goes on to invite only non-White staff, stating: ‘If you are a staff member of color and would like to attend the summit with our students, please email,’” reads the scathing letter from EPP. “SOCU 2024 thus appears intended to exclude Whites and to be promoted as open only to students and staff ‘of color. This is consistent with how ICSD and IHS have run prior SOCU summits.”

The letter proceeds to excoriate the school district for its unprecedented decision to exclude students and staff from the event based on their race, adding that as a public school, they were not allowed to do this.

“ICSD knows that it is not permitted to segregate students by race for any reason. Because ICSD is a public school district, these programs that discriminate based on race and skin color violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The EPP asked Brown to “publicly denounce and renounce past and planned segregationist programs, and open up the upcoming SOCU Summit to all students and staff without regard to race. ICSD needs not only to open the SOCU Summit to all students and staff, ICSD needs to inform all students and staff that the racial barrier has been removed.”

“If for whatever reason the SOCU Summit 2024 is not going to take place, ICSD still needs to inform students and staff that the announced racial barrier was improper,” explained the EPP, heading off any potential plans to memory-hole the event. “Such barriers not only are contrary to law, they are contrary to ICSD policies, and part of remedying the damage from past and planned segregated events is to make clear that such practices are not ICSD policy.”

The letter appeared to do the trick, as less than two days later the ICSD sent an email apologizing for promoting the event using “exclusionary language.”

“The Students of Color United (SOCU) Summit will be held this Friday, May 31, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Ithaca High School. Please know that SOCU is open to all of our secondary students. We apologize for any previous communication that included exclusionary language about the event,” the groveling message read. The Students of Color Summit 2024 reportedly went on as planned, and the EPP is considering the backpedal a victory.

“In its mass email to the school community, the Ithaca City School District has admitted the validity of concerns raised by Equal Protection Project –EqualProtect.org — regarding exclusionary language used by ICSD to promote the Students of Color United Summit. EPP is vindicated, but most important, equal protection of the laws has triumphed for now at ICSD as a result of our efforts,” said EPP founder William A. Jacobson in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“Equality is not a ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ value – it is a core foundation of our constitutional system. We hope that ICSD has learned a lesson and will promote equality throughout the district, and not fall into the trap of race-based ‘equity’ education. We also call on ICSD to be transparent as to past exclusionary practices, not just exclusionary language.”

Sierra Marlee

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