Lawsuit filed against Minneapolis Public Schools over ‘protections for educators of color’

A new lawsuit against Minneapolis Public Schools seeks to stop the district from enforcing a provision in its new contract with educators that would pass over nonwhite staff members when conducting layoffs.

Conservative activist group Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of Minneapolis resident Deborah Clapp. The filing claims the language of the teachers’ contract would violate Minnesota’s Equal Protection Guarantee, and any expenditures to carry out the policy would be illegal.

Minneapolis Public Schools, interim Superintendent Rochelle Cox and the Minneapolis Board of Education are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, in its negotiations with the district, included a section in its contract that prioritizes members “of an underrepresented population” when the district implements layoffs, reassignments and reinstatements, rather than based on seniority.

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The contract states this policy is designed to “remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination by the District” and that the language “will no longer be in effect once the teachers in the District reflect the diversity of the labor market and the community served by the District.”

The plaintiff is asking a judge to enjoin the district from using public funds to carry out the “ethnic preference provisions” outlined in the contract.

“It is incredible that in this day and age a school system would engage in blatant racial discrimination in employing teachers,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The courts can’t move soon enough to shut down this extreme leftist attack on the bedrock constitutional principle that no one can be denied equal treatment under law on account of race.”

In response to a request for comment, Minneapolis Public Schools spokeswoman Crystina Lugo-Beach said the district does not issue statements on pending litigation.

However, the district did offer the following statement to ABC News last week when asked about the policy:

“To remedy the continuing effects of past discrimination, Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT) mutually agreed to contract language that aims to support the recruitment and retention of teachers from underrepresented groups as compared to the labor market and to the community served by the school district.”