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U.S. Will Probe Jordan Parents’ Complaints of Bias

Times Education Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District said Tuesday it has been notified that the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights will investigate allegations that the district discriminates against black students who attend Jordan High School in Watts.

A complaint filed Feb. 17 on behalf of parents who live in the nearby Imperial Courts housing project in Watts alleges that the district and Jordan’s staff have failed to protect students from gang violence and have not provided an “academically sound” environment.

Letter to District

Jean Kresy-Poree, deputy regional director of the federal civil rights office, said in a letter to the district that it will determine within 90 days whether the district has violated provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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Leslie Dutton, president of the American Assn. of Women, a Santa Monica-based group that filed the complaint for the parents, said Tuesday she was pleased by the civil rights office’s decision to proceed with an investigation.

“We hope the very first thing they look into is the number of unreported crimes and irregular attendance reporting” at Jordan, Dutton said.

Parent representatives have said that the majority of the 100 high school-age students living at Imperial Courts have been absent from school for the last several months because of threats by gang members from another nearby housing project, Jordan Downs. Twenty-three students have requested transfers to schools they consider safer.

School district special counsel Richard K. Mason said Tuesday that the federal civil rights office will review a lawsuit filed by parents of Latino and Asian students against the district that makes allegations similar to those in the Jordan parents’ complaint.

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Office Policy

In her letter to the district, Kresy-Poree said her office generally does not accept cases that cover issues involved in ongoing litigation.

Officials of the Department of Education’s regional office in San Francisco could not be reached Tuesday.


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