State Orders Burlington Schools To Fix Racial Environment

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Public Instruction has ordered the Burlington Area School District to repair what the agency is calling a “racially hostile environment.”

The DPI issued an order Friday giving the district 30 days to come up with a corrective action plan to prevent racial discrimination in student discipline and “adequately redress the racially hostile environment.”

The order came after a mother complained to the district that her two Black students had been harassed between the years of 2016 and 2020.

The mother said they were subjected to racial slurs, detained when white students hurt them, spat on and pushed down stairs. She also alleged that one of her students brought a toy air gun to school in 2017 and received a one-day suspension when a white fourth-grader brought a knife to school in 2018 and got only detention.

The DPI order said the district failed to adequately investigate the mother's complaints.

The order also notes a student discipline report includes 19 discipline incidents of racial harassment across the district between 2016 and 2020.

The district issued a statement noting one of every five students in the district is a minority and it would never intentionally treat Black or Brown students differently based on their race. The school board in November adopted a new student anti-harassment/anti-racism policy, the statement said.