Victory: Asheville (NC) Agrees To Stop Racial Discrimination In Scholarship Program After Lawsuit By Judicial Watch and Legal Insurrection
The Asheville scholarship program no longer will be able to discriminate on the basis of race or other protected categories.
On October 20, 2021, we reported on a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch and Legal Insurrection Foundation challenging a public school scholarship program in Asheville, NC, that discriminated on the basis of race, as only black students were eligible.
The laws against discrimination on the basis of race apply without regard to the particular race discriminated against. Discrimination favoring blacks or non-whites is just as illegal as discrimination favoring whites.
That’s a core legal principle, but a principle that gets swept aside in an era where Ibram X. Kendi’s maxim that current discrimination is justified to remedy past discrimination is worshipped in academia, corporations, and government….
A lawsuit now has been filed in federal court in North Carolina challenging a racially discriminatory government scholarship fund in Asheville, NC. Lead attorneys in the case are James Peterson, Esq. of Judicial Watch, and Asheville, NC, Attorney Ruth C. Smith, Esq. Ameer Benno, Esq. of Legal Insurrection Foundation is serving as Of Counsel in the case, lending his experience as a civil rights lawyer to the effort.
From the Complaint:
10. On May 5, 2021, the City of Asheville entered into an agreement with [The Asheville City Schools Foundation] ACSF to establish and administer the City of Asheville Scholarship Fund. See attached Exhibits 2 and 3. The program is to award two types of scholarships. The first scholarship is to be “awarded in perpetuity to Black high school students within Asheville City Schools, with special consideration given for Black students pursuing a career in education.” This scholarship is known as the “City of Asheville Scholarship.” The second scholarship is to be directed to “Black, Indigenous, or People of Color” who are educators or staff of Asheville City Schools and who are pursuing further education or certification. While both scholarships constitute illegal discrimination, only the “City of Asheville Scholarship” is being challenged here.
11. The funds provided by the City of Asheville for the City of Asheville Scholarship came from the settlement of an unrelated lawsuit. On April 13, 2021, the Asheville City Council directed the City Manager and City Attorney to effectuate a “donation” of $474,592.56 to ACSF. The City Council stated that it expected the funds would be used “in such a way as to provide the public benefit of advancing racial equity within the community.” See attached Exhibits 2 and 3. A later smaller donation also was made by the City of Asheville to ACSF for the same purpose.
12. The agreement between the City of Asheville and ACSF governs the terms and conditions under which the City of Asheville Scholarship is awarded. Among other terms and conditions under which the City of Asheville controls the program, ACSF must provide twice annual written reports on the use of the funds to the Asheville City Council. Furthermore, the City of Asheville has the authority to demand the return of any funds provided to ACSF should ACSF fail “to utilize the funds in the manner and for the purpose herein described.”
13. According to ACSF’s website, the first City of Asheville Scholarship was awarded in May 2021. ACSF will begin accepting applications on November 1, 2021 and through January 31, 2022 for the next City of Asheville Scholarship to be awarded. Pursuant to a press release issued by the City of Asheville, the City of Asheville Scholarship will continue to be awarded twice annually until funds have been exhausted (or two years following the date of donation), whichever comes first. See Exhibits 4, 5 and 6.
14. Plaintiff’s Student Members are Asheville High School students and, if eligible, would apply for the City of Asheville Scholarship.
15. Plaintiff’s Student Members are ineligible because they are not Black.
The case has now settled, with Asheville agreeing to end its racially discriminatory practices. Judicial Watch issued a press release, which reads in part:
Judicial Watch announced today that the City of Asheville, North Carolina settled a Judicial Watch federal civil rights lawsuit, after agreeing to remove all racially discriminatory provisions in a City-funded scholarship program. Additionally, the city also agreed to remove racially discriminatory eligibility provisions in a related program that provides grants to educators. The City Council approved the settlement on January 11….
To settle the civil rights lawsuit, on January 11, 2022, Asheville’s City Council approved a resolution that removes the racial criteria for the scholarship:
[T]he scholarship will give preference to applicants whose household members, including parents and/or guardians have a high school education or less, these applicants representing “first generation” college students.
The City Council also removed racially discriminatory language for a scholarship program for educators and staff of Asheville City Schools.
The scholarship agreements were also amended to prohibit discrimination based on race and other categories.
“Our clients, a group of Asheville residents, including high school students, courageously challenged this blatantly discriminatory and illegal scholarship program in federal court. Thankfully, the City of Asheville did the right thing in quickly ending these indefensible race-based scholarship programs,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This federal lawsuit and the resulting remarkable settlement should serve as a wakeup call to those activists and allied politicians pushing the extremist leftist agenda to segregate and discriminate based on race.”
The Legal Insurrection Foundation partnered with Judicial Watch in the lawsuit.
Here is some key wording from the Settlement Agreement:
1. Amendment of Donation Agreements Paragraph 1. The City and ACSF agree that within five (5) days of the execution of this Agreement, they will amend the Donation Agreements (“Agreement Amendments”), such amendments to be effective as of the date of this Settlement Agreement, to amend Paragraph 1 of each of the Donation Agreements as follows: Paragraph 1 shall be amended to replace the second and third sentences of Paragraph 1 with the following sentences: “The first is for a scholarship to be awarded in perpetuity to high school students within Asheville City Schools, based on the following criteria: In addition to the criteria set forth for all ACSF scholarships, the scholarship will give preference to applicants whose household members, including parents and/or guardians have a high school education or less, these applicants representing “first generation” college students. Additionally preference will be given to applicants who are committed to pursuing a career in education. The second is for a scholarship fund for educators and staff of Asheville City Schools who are pursuing their next level of education and/or certification, with a preference for applicants who are or were “first generation” college students.”
2. Amendment of Donation Agreements Paragraph 10. Additionally, the City and ACSF agree that the Agreement Amendments will amend Paragraph 10 of the Donation Agreements add the following text: “ACSF shall be prohibited from discriminating based on any of the following characteristics of any applicant for award of the scholarships that are the subject of this Donation Agreement, whether the scholarship be for students of Asheville High School or employees of Asheville City Schools: race, natural hair or hairstyles, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ancestry, marital or familiar status, pregnancy, veteran status, religious belief or non-belief, age or disability.”
More such lawsuits are needed. To quote Chief Justice Roberts: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”DONATE
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