The ACLU of Southern California announced Wednesday that it had reached settlements with the city of Glendale and the school district on behalf of eight Latino students who alleged officials engaged in racial profiling and illegal searches during a 2010 incident at Hoover High School.
On Sept. 24, 2010, more than 50 Latino students were allegedly detained by Glendale and Los Angeles police officers who questioned them about possible gang affiliations. The students were also allegedly forced to pose for mock police mug shots.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in 2011, the ACLU alleged officials targeted Latino students because of their race and that there was no evidence students were violating laws at the time they were questioned.
According to the settlement agreements, the city agreed to pay $50,000 to the ACLU of Southern California Client Trust Fund and Glendale Unified and its defendants agreed to pay $50,000 to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.
Claims against the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the Los Angeles Police Department are still pending “for their involvement in planning and executing the round-up,” according to the ACLU.
“Unlike most cities, police departments or school districts, Glendale did not try to sweep this under the rug,” said Bert Voorhees, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs with the ACLU.
David Sapp — an attorney for the ACLU of Southern California — also commended the school district and city of Glendale for “using this incident as an opportunity to review their current practices and adopt new policies that will ensure that students’ rights are protected on campus.”
Under the agreement, Glendale Unified and the city’s police department revised their policies regarding future police activities on school grounds.
The school board in November approved districtwide policy changes that require school officials to notify the parents of students who are questioned on campus by police.
Any non-emergency operation between school and police officials must also be approved by the superintendent or an assistant superintendent.
Glendale police, meanwhile, has updated training for officers, said department spokesman Sgt. Tom Lorenz.
“The no racial profiling policy has always been in effect,” Lorenz said in an email. “We have taken steps so as to not have these types of ‘allegations’ occur in the future.”
He added the city and police department admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement and “wanted to work with the parties to make sure that we took the right steps.”
“It is always the goal of the police department to ensure the safety of our children, yet being mindful of one’s individual rights,” Lorenz said.
Glendale Unified and police officials also agreed to verify that information collected during the interrogations has been destroyed.
For her part, Ashley Flores — who was 16 years old and an “A student” when she was rounded up with other students for the detainment — said in a statement Wednesday that she was “happy that what happened to us won’t happen to anyone else.”
“I’ve never been in trouble and it was confusing, terrifying and humiliating,” she added.
-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan