OPRF resolves question of using affinity groups

September 28, 2015

Click here to see the resolution.

The Board of Education has approved a resolution agreement in response to a complaint alleging discrimination based on race, which was filed with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) last spring.

The complaint was about a Black Lives Matter assembly held at OPRF on Feb. 27, 2015. The event celebrated the conclusion of Black History Month and was intended as the first in a series of conversations about racial equity. Roughly 350 students and staff who identify as Black attended the forum. It included a panel discussion and audience participation about experiences as Black youth and adults at OPRF and in the larger school community, as well as the ways in which participants could better support each other and efforts to create positive change.

The forum used a racial affinity group model to engage participants in a deeper conversation around the national theme “Black Lives Matter.” The event was part of OPRF’s ongoing efforts to look at issues of racial equity in the high school, the school community, and around the country. Racial affinity groups often are used in learning communities to help facilitate positive identity exploration and to provide people with similar experiences a space in which to pose questions and process topics.

The OCR case brought into question the use of affinity groups in the district. The district fully complied with the OCR investigation. The OCR has ruled that voluntary affinity groups are permissible but cannot be exclusive. In signing the resolution, the district has agreed to take specific actions within a particular timeframe. These include assuring that all programs and activities are open to students, parents, and other individuals regardless of race, color, or national origin; a review of policies, procedures, and related materials; and training to ensure non-discrimination policies are upheld.