Former student settles with Twin Valley School District over alleged racist bullying

By ETHAN WEINSTEIN

VTDigger

Published: 03-24-2024 9:13 PM

A former student, who is Black, has settled a complaint with Twin Valley School District alleging that officials didn’t do enough to address racist bullying she faced at the district’s middle and high school, according to the ACLU of Vermont, which represents the student.

In a 2021 complaint to the Vermont Human Rights Commission, the ACLU said that the student, referred to as “C.B.,” was a 10th-grader at Twin Valley Middle High School and its only Black student. The complaint alleged that Twin Valley students used racist slurs against C.B., directed the Nazi salute at her and threatened her with violence.

As a result of the alleged harassment, C.B. “did not participate in school sports, her grades declined and she developed anxiety and depression,” according to the ACLU. The student “was forced to transfer schools,” the organization said, as the school “did nothing to protect C.B.”

“School administrators have a responsibility to protect students’ rights to an education free of discrimination, and we hope this case reminds schools of that responsibility,” Lia Ernst, ACLU of Vermont’s legal director, said in a written statement.

A lawyer for Twin Valley School District did not respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday. Twin Valley Middle High School is in Whitingham and is part of the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union.

A March 2023 settlement between Twin Valley and the federal government similarly found that Twin Valley did not sufficiently respond to racial harassment “that created a hostile environment for Black students.”

As part of the federal settlement, the district agreed to administer schoolwide culture and climate assessments, and to provide professional development in harassment prevention for staff and students.

According to the ACLU, Twin Valley paid C.B. an “undisclosed sum” for damages and legal fees.

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The settlement, according to its language, is not a “finding of discrimination” or a “determination of the merits of the complaint.”