Latino Advocates File Civil Rights Complaint Against Idaho Charter Schools

May 21, 2015

An Idaho Latino and immigrant advocacy group has filed a civil rights complaint against all of Idaho’s public charter schools. The Boise based Centro de Comunidad y Justicia (Center for Community and Justice) is asking the Seattle branch of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate all 48 Idaho charters as well as state agencies that oversee them.

“The way the charter school system operates in the state basically discriminates based on race, color, national origin and ethnicity,” center director Sam Byrd says.

Byrd cites research by Caldwell special education teacher Levi Cavener who is also an education blogger, activist, and charter school critic. The complaint also references a report released in late April by the Idaho Charter School Commission.

“Minority ethnicity, Limited English Proficiency, Special Needs, and Free & Reduced Lunch populations tend to be underrepresented at PCSC [Public Charter School Commission] portfolio schools by comparison to both state and district levels,” the report says.

Credit screen grab chartercommission.idaho.gov / Idaho Public Charter School Commission

That report includes the 35 schools under the jurisdiction of the state charter commission. Nearly 15,000 students attend those schools.

Byrd says his organization is not against charter schools and doesn’t want to prevent anyone in a charter now from taking advantage of those educational opportunities.

“We just want equity,” Byrd says. “Public funds are being used to provide public education so they should reach out to all of those students.”

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