Providence (RI) Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program Only Open To Non-Whites Challenged By Legal Insurrection Foundation
“The Providence Public School District’s discriminatory loan forgiveness program is one of the most brazen racial preferences we have seen anywhere. They don’t even try to hide it. They seem proud to discriminate.”
The Providence, Rhode Island, Public School District has a loan forgiveness program for new and recently hired teachers, funded by the Rhode Island Foundation, the largest charity in the state. There’s a catch, however. Whites need not apply, it’s only open to non-whites.
Legal Insurrection Foundation has filed a challenge to this overtly racist and discriminatory program, after a 6-month investigation that included obtaining information from public sources and also from records obtained by LIF pursuant to the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act.
You can read the full Complaint.
Here is an excerpt, click on the link for the full report:
A civil rights complaint was filed against the Providence Public School District with the U.S. Department of Education on Monday over a program offering student loan forgiveness to new teachers that is exclusively available to non-White educators.
The complaint claims that Providence Public School District is “engaged in a continuing violation and an ongoing pattern or practice of discrimination” with a student loan forgiveness program for newly and recently hired educators that is only available to non-White applicants, billed as the “Educator of Color Loan Forgiveness Program.”
The Providence Public School District advertises that recipients can have up to $25,000 of college loans forgiven once the teacher completes three consecutive years of teaching in the district. The eligibility requirements indicate recipients must “identify as Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latino, biracial, or multi-racial.”
“Discrimination against non-White applicants is just as unlawful as discrimination against Black or other non-White applicants. There is no good form of racial discrimination,” the complaint states….
“PPSD does not even attempt to hide its racially discriminatory practices. To the contrary, PPSD brags about treating white applicants less favorably than non-white applicants. The unlawful discriminatory provisions of the program are advertised on multiple platforms, including on the PPSD’s website and hiring portal. The program is a key part of PPSD’s hiring efforts, and already has processed dozens of applicants on this discriminatory basis,” the complaint states. “The program violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a variety of state law anti-discrimination statutes. ”
Cornell Law School professor and Legal Insurrection Foundation president William A. Jacobson wants to get in touch with any teachers who were shut out of, or did not apply, to this loan forgiveness program because of their race or ethnicity. He has also called for the “discriminatory practices be discontinued immediately.” …
“The Providence Public School District’s discriminatory loan forgiveness program is one of the most brazen racial preferences we have seen anywhere. They don’t even try to hide it. They seem proud to discriminate. The promotional materials make clear that White educators need not apply for this hiring incentive and employment benefit,” Jacobson told Fox News Digital….
Jacobson, who is particularly irked because the PPSD receives millions of dollars in federal funding, called for the district to make the program retroactively available to people hired since the program started that were excluded from consideration on the basis of race or ethnicity.
“That will not compensate people who never applied because of the discriminatory provisions, but it would be a good start. If that means the Providence schools and Rhode Island Foundation have to put forth additional funding, it’s the least they could do,” Jacobson said.
Here’s more from the Complaint:
According to the Agreement, PPSD pledged to recruit, over five years, up to 127 “teachers of color” – which was defined as “full-time (non-substitute) teachers providing classroom instruction who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, and/or 2 or more races.” To meet this goal, PPSD promised to pay each new “teacher of color” up to $25,000 of that teacher’s student loan debt. To fund this incentive program, RIF agreed to raise over $3 million, and to provide that money to the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority, which, in turn, would use those funds to make student loan repayments directly to the teachers’ loan providers.
Because a teacher’s qualification for the loan repayment program turns on race, skin color, and ancestry, the program is discriminatory on its face and in practice and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
* * *
Under the Agreement, “teachers of color” is defined as “full-time (non-substitute) teachers providing classroom instruction who identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, and/or 2 or more races.” Even among candidates who fit these classifications, the Agreement provides that a “preference may … be given for individuals who identify as Black.” ….
PPSD promotes the Loan Forgiveness Program in its job postings and on its website. A sampling of the PPSD’s job postings are annexed hereto as Exhibit 6….
PPSD’s website also lists the eligibility requirements for the program. To qualify, applicants must meet three criteria. They must: (1) “[B]e a newly hired full-time (non-substitute) teacher or be currently employed as a full-time (non-substitute) teacher”; (2) “Identify as Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latino, biracial, or multi-racial”; and (3) “Have a minimum of $5,000 in student loans.”
[https://web.archive.org/web/20221114160319/https://www.providenceschools.org/Page/5843] (accessed on Nov. 14, 2022).
A printout of the “Educator of Color Loan Forgiveness Program” page of the PPSD’s current website is annexed hereto as Exhibit 7, and a screenshot is provided below.
As of June 2021, 18 new hires to PPSD qualified for the Loan Forgiveness Program. Of those, eight identified as Hispanic, five as bi-racial, four as black, and one as Asian. Data obtained from PPSD pursuant to the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act reveal that, as of September 22, 2022, 19 individuals were under consideration for the Loan Forgiveness Program for the 2022-23 school year. Each identified as either “Latinx,” black, Asian, Indigenous American or multiracial.
After a lengthy disussion of additional evidence and the law, the Complaint concludes:
The Providence Public School District, enabled by the Rhode Island Foundation, is engaged in unlawful discrimination through the “Educator of Color” student loan forgiveness program. Racial discrimination by a public school district is illegal regardless of which race suffers. Discrimination against white applicants is just as unlawful as discrimination against black or other non-white applicants. There is no good form of racial discrimination. Because PPSD receives federal funding, OCR had the power and obligation to make PPSD stop and to impose whatever remedial relief is necessary.
“The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch., 551 U.S. at 748. OCR should promptly investigate the allegations in this complaint and take the necessary enforcement action to end the PPSD’s ongoing unlawful policies and practices. This includes, if necessary, imposing fines, initiating administrative proceedings to suspend, terminate, or refuse to grant or continue federal financial assistance, and referring the case to the Department of Justice for judicial proceedings to enforce the rights of the United States under federal law.
We expect that OCR will take this seriously, as it has other substantial issues. If and when a teacher comes forward who either did not apply to the program or was denied from the program because of the racial and ethnic requirements, we also will consider filing a court lawsuit.
Moving from research and investigation to litigation is part of LIF’s plan for 2023. We are in the process of trying to put that all together. Stay tuned.
(Much thanks to Ameer Benno, Esq. and Ilana Cutler, Esq. of LIF for their hard work on this investigation and filing.)DONATE
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