University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Owatonna Public School District No. 761 ED-MN-0003
Docket / Court docket unknown ( No Court )
State/Territory Minnesota
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
A November, 2009 fight between several white and Somali-American students at Owatonna High School and alleged severe and pervasive harassment generated a complaint to the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("the Division") and the ... read more >
A November, 2009 fight between several white and Somali-American students at Owatonna High School and alleged severe and pervasive harassment generated a complaint to the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("the Division") and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") regarding the student-on-student harassment and disproportionate discipline of Somali-American students based on their race and national-origin by Owatonna Independent Public School District No. 761(also known as Owatonna Public Schools) ("OPS"). An investigation of OPS under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by the OCR and the Division followed. The departments gathered evidence indicating that the district meted out disproportionate discipline for the students involved in the November 2009 incident and that the district's policies, procedures and trainings were not adequately addressing harassment against Somali-American students.

Following affirmative steps by OPS to address the harassment and disproportionate discipline of Somali-American students, OPS, the Division, and the OCR voluntarily entered into a resolution agreement on April 12, 2011. Under the terms of the agreement, OPS promised to, inter alia, issue an anti-harassment statement to all district students, parents and staff; conduct training of all OPS faculty, staff and students on discrimination and harassment; meet with high school Somali students to discuss their concerns about harassment; establish a working group of OPS personnel, students and parents to make recommendations to OPS regarding the effectiveness of OPS's anti-harassment program; develop an OPS-wide monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of OPS's anti-harassment efforts; and provide annual compliance reports to the OCR and DOJ for the next three years.

Heather Turner - 06/04/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Failure to train
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Title IV, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000c et seq.
Defendant(s) Owatonna Public Schools
Plaintiff Description Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2011 - 2014
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Resolution Agreement [#05-10-1148] 04/21/2011
ED-MN-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berman, Amy I. (District of Columbia)
ED-MN-0003-0001
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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