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U.S. Department of Education to Investigate Allegations of Discrimination in SLC Schools

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating the Salt Lake City School District for alleged racial discrimination against students of color.

Salt Lake City School Board Member Michael Clara filed a complaint with the Department in May, criticizing the district's disciplinary policies. He accused the district of putting minority students on a collision course with law enforcement by placing a disproportionate number of Salt Lake City police officers in schools on the city’s west side. 

“They’re enforcing school policy as though it were state law and that’s inappropriate especially now, and here’s where the complaint comes in, that you’re only targeting a certain segment of our population in our school district,” Clara says.

Salt Lake City School District has a total of eight police officers stationed at East, Highland, West and Horizonte high schools as well as Glendale and Northwest Middle Schools. But Salt Lake City police say the officers routinely visit other schools in the district.

District Spokesman Jason Olsen said in a statement district leaders and equity advocates have been meeting with community organizations, such as the Disproportionate Minority Contact Subcommittee of the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice, to study data from the district and from across the state. He added, they’re working proactively to implement policies and procedures that ensure equity for all students and look forward to the Office for Civil Rights review and learning additional ways to help address any possible inequities. Officials from the U.S. Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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