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DC public schools hosts racially segregated ‘affinity groups’ for staff

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Judicial Watch is accusing District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) of violating federal law by hosting racially segregated “affinity groups” for staff that the district says are to promote equity.

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and provided to Fox News Digital, DCPS has hosted a number of affinity groups for school staff at least once a month, including those for employees who identify as Asian American Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Indigenous/Native American, LGBTQIA+, multi-racial, or White.

The DCPS website describes a “racial affinity space” as a “brave space to share openly, build community, authentically engage, listen, and grow in our collective journey of DCPS becoming anti-racist, whole-child centered school district.”

“Remember, the goal of these affinity groups is to create a safe space among colleagues to process the impacts of racism and white supremacy within our school community and identify collective actions to take as individuals and as groups,” Katie Lundgren, the principal of Marie Reed Elementary school, wrote in a May 17, 2021, email to DCPS “race and equity leaders.”

DC Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee discusses the roll out his first big initiative, at Eastern Senior High School on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“We will also have periodic cross racial dialogues in which we learn from each other,” she wrote.

The school district’s Equity Strategy and Programming team initially launched the affinity spaces programs in order to provide “safe spaces” for employees to “reflect and process following the murder of George Floyd,” but the district decided to keep them in place throughout the 2021-2022 school year as a continued resource, according to the documents.

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“One way to process in a safe space is through affinity,” reads the district’s Affinity Group Interest Form for staff. “Affinity spaces are gathering opportunities for people who share a common identity. This space will be organized based on the racial identities represented in Central Office as we aim to lean into the Courageous Conversation condition of isolating race.”

The Placentia Yorba Linda School Board in Yorba Linda, CA, discusses a proposed resolution to ban teaching critical race theory in schools on November 16, 2021.

The Placentia Yorba Linda School Board in Yorba Linda, CA, discusses a proposed resolution to ban teaching critical race theory in schools on November 16, 2021.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The interest form also links to a 2015 magazine article that argues affinity groups are not separatist or racist.

“We were really just providing a space for kids to have conversations that they felt they needed,” one affinity group leader unaffiliated with DCPS said in the article. “It wasn’t about what we as adults were wanting.”

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“I say to students, ‘You can’t fully understand the experience or the perspective of being a minority student in this population. That’s why we have to offer these students those groups,’” another affinity group leader unaffiliated with DCPS told the magazine.

Classroom with empty wooden desks. (iStock)

Classroom with empty wooden desks. (iStock)
(iStock)

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the affinity groups at DCPS are rooted in critical race theory (CRT), the controversial theory that America’s institutions are inherently racist and shaped by systemic racism. He said the affinity groups violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives federal funds or other federal financial assistance.

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“These shocking documents show, in evident violation of the Constitution and civil rights laws, that the public school system of our nation’s capital pushed blatant racial segregation among its staff based on radical, divisive CRT principles,” Fitton said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

DCPS did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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