Is Justice Colorblind?

By Edwin C. Darden

Despite wishful thinking to the contrary, a person’s race or ethnicity continues to influence decision-making -- and school districts are no exception.

Whether the issue is hiring and firing, student discipline, parent involvement, subcontracting in bids, participation on sports teams, or -- most insidiously -- the soft bigotry of low expectations, the myriad social and legal issues connected to race persist. The fact that U.S. citizens elected a man of color to the White House has not significantly changed the equation.

The following school law cases during the last three years demonstrate the point. In each one, race or ethnicity is a factor -- frequently in an accusatory way. Sometimes the school district is declared in the wrong by the court or by public opinion. Just as often, an individual falsely or mistakenly blasts officials acting in good faith.

My conclusion is this: Perhaps every one of us did learn everything we needed to know in kindergarten, i.e., harmony is not complicated but it is hard. As I recall when I was 5 years old, the classroom rules included “be kind” and “be fair.” We should all practice what we teach.

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