Refugees Fail to Prove School Discrimination

8/27/2010 9:15:00 AM, Annie Youderian
     (CN) - Thirteen African refugees failed to prove that a Minnesota high school for immigrants discriminated against them with substandard educational programs and services, the 8th Circuit ruled.

     In 2005, a group of immigrants complained about the allegedly substandard education they were receiving at Abraham Lincoln High School, an alternative school for immigrants in Minneapolis.
     After investigating, the Minnesota Department of Education found that the students "are in need of something more than is being provided."
     More specifically, the department cited the school's low passage rate on statewide exams, inadequate special education testing and services, and high number of students who "age out," or reach 21 without graduating.
     The school eventually completed certain remedial actions in April 2007.
     Meanwhile, a group of 13 former students -- all refugees from Somalia or Ethiopia -- sued the school and its operator, the Institute for Americans, claiming the substandard services were discriminatory and violated their human and civil rights.
     The federal appeals court in St. Louis upheld the lower court's ruling for the school, explaining that "deficient programming in and of itself is not evidence of intentional discrimination based on national origin."
     "A policy that treats students with limited English proficiency differently than other students in the district does not facially discriminate based on national origin," Circuit Judge Steven Colloton wrote.
     The 8th Circuit also said the former students lack standing to sue under the Equal Education Opportunities Act, because any order against the school would no longer affect them.
     "None of the plaintiffs currently attends ALHS and none will ever return, because all have graduated high school or aged out of the public school system," Colloton wrote.
     "An order that the school must close or conform to certain legal requirements will not redress the injuries alleged by these students." Attachment