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Ithaca (NY) Public Schools Must Desegregate “Students of Color” Summit, Demands Equal Protection Project

Ithaca (NY) Public Schools Must Desegregate “Students of Color” Summit, Demands Equal Protection Project

EPP calls for event to be open to all students and staff. Ithaca Board of Education member: “We’ve had some people ask us as a Board …, why would we support something that separates young people out by the color of their skin?”

The Equal Protection Project (EPP) ( of the Legal Insurrection Foundation has challenged numerous racially discriminatory programs done in the name of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This discrimination comes in various ways, but the overarching theme is to exclude or diminish some people and promote others, based on race, color, or ethnicity. We have filed over two dozen complaints and legal actions in the year since launch in February 2023, over a dozen schools withdrawing or modifying the discriminatory programs.

Almost all of our actions have addressed discrimination in higher education, although we have handles some matters in K-12. In our latest action, we have sent a letter to the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) calling on it to desegregate an event planned for the end of this month which appears to be open only to students and staff “of color.”

Here are excerpts from the Letter (full embed at bottom of post) which was delivered this morning to senior administrators at ICSD:

The nation recently commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), which held, among other things, that segregation of students by race in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In light of this historic anniversary, we are deeply troubled to learn of a program in the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) which appears to segregate students by race.

According to the official online Ithaca High School (IHS) calendar,[1] the Student of Color United (SOCU) Summit 2024, is scheduled for May 31, 2024, to be held at IHS from 9 a.m. through 12 p.m. A poster promoting SOCU 2024 indicates that SOCU 2024 is only for “Students of Color in grades 6-12 in Ithaca City School District.” [image omitted]

Additionally, it appears that an email or message was circulated by a supervisory level staff member of ICSD informing staff (and possibly others) of SOCU 2024, how staff could assist students in registering, and stating that the event was “for students of color to interact with each other….” The message goes on to emphasize the exclusionary nature of the summit, and explicitly delineates that “[a]llies are not invited to this event.” We understand in this context that the word “allies” refers to white students and staff. In fact, the message goes on to invite only non-white staff, stating: “If you are a staff member of color and would like to attend the summit with our students, please email ….”

SOCU 2024 thus appears intended to exclude whites and to be promoted as open only to students and staff “of color.”

We then went over the segregationist history of these Summits at ICSD:

This is consistent with how ICSD and IHS have run prior SOCU summits. SOCU 2021 was discussed at a public Ithaca Board of Education meeting on May 25, 2021. There, non-white students explained to the Board how important it was to them to have had an event open only to other “students of color.” During the exchange, one of the students recounted an interaction with a mixed-race schoolmate, who was unsure whether the event was open to her. In response, one of the Board members stated:

“We’ve had some people ask us as a Board, I’m sure Dr. Brown has heard this, why would we support something that separates young people out by the color of their skin?”

Promotional materials for SOCU 2021-2023,[2] and post-event postings on social media make clear that the events were racially exclusionary, and open only to students of color. The following examples illustrate this:

  • In May 2021, ICSD posted on social media: “On Friday, May 21, BIPOC students from Boynton Middle School, DeWitt Middle School, Lehman Alternative Community School, and Ithaca High School gathered for a day of affirmation, scholarship, joy, and artful expression…. ”
  • In June 2022, ICSD posted that: “The Students of Color United (SOCU) Summit is a day of affirmation, scholarship, joy, and artful expression for BIPOC students at Boynton, DeWitt, LACS, and IHS.”
  • In June 2023, ICSD posted on social media: “The third-annual Students of Color United (SOCU) Summit took place on June 7th! The affinity event welcomed students of color from all ICSD secondary schools….”

It appears that these 2021-2023 annual Students of Color United summits were promoted and conducted as racially exclusionary, and that SOCU 2024 is following in that path. We don’t think you will seriously dispute this.[3]

We also noted that ICSD apparently had represented to the U.S. Department of Education that all programs were open to all students:

ICSD knows that it is not permitted to segregate students by race for any reason. On March 13, 2023, the non-profit group Parents Defending Education filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding a different ICSD affinity event scheduled for February 8, 2023. According to a September 7, 2023, letter4 from OCR dismissing the complaint as moot, ICSD made the following representations to the U.S. Department of Education:

“The District informed OCR that the affinity groups listed on the announcement and scheduled for February 8, 2023, did not take place. The District further informed OCR that all of the District’s programming is open to all participants regardless of race and there are no affinity groups or other programs that are exclusionary based on race. OCR confirmed that the announcement listing the affinity groups no longer exists on the District’s website.” [emphasis added]

It seems hard to square ICSD’s representations to OCR with how the SOCU summits appear to have been promoted and conducted since 2021, but we look forward to that explanation.

We then went into a detailed explanation of the law, and how it didn’t matter why students were segregated by race, such segregation was not permitted.

Separately, we filed a Freedom of Information Law request seeking records regarding the Student of Color Summits, including but not limited to, racial eligibility and access standards.

As of this writing, we have not heard back from ICSD.

As an aside, there seems to be a voter revolt in liberal Ithaca, with the school budget (and large tax increase) overwhelmingly rejected, and two Board of Education members voted off.

After weeks of outcry about rising property tax bills, voters rejected the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) proposed budget by record-setting margins Tuesday, with only 29% voting in favor and 71% opposed.

Such margins are exceptionally rare — both regionally and statewide….

The budget included a proposed 8.4% increase to the tax levy, or the portion of the budget funded by tax dollars. The increased levy came amid increases in property assessments averaging 20% county-wide. This is also the third year in a row ICSD has increased its tax levy by more than 5%….

In another rare result, all three of ICSD’s ballot proposals failed, despite only one — the budget — directly impacting property taxes. Some said they voted down the other proposals, which dealt with the district’s capital projects and the purchase of low or no emission school buses, because they wished to send a stronger message to school district leadership….

Two longtime incumbents, Moira Lang and Eldred Harris, had been outspoken in their support for the budget and the district’s performance in its pursuit of more equitable learning. Both lost their bids for reelection.



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We need to start creating alternative sources of teachers.

    Hodge in reply to Danny. | May 29, 2024 at 10:19 am

    Uhm, who or what do you have in mind? Cause the obvious answer to your comment is “Hello A.I.”

    Since A.I. is Garbage in = Garbage out I am not sure that’s a good solution, but it’s obviously what coming.

destroycommunism | May 28, 2024 at 10:58 pm


when you go to a doctor and you say

well I dont want a white doctor

that should then be acceptable b/c we have allowed that segregation is good


when one says they dont want a poc as a doctor

then that should also be good for the same reason

but me thinks that saying you dont want a white doctor is going to be acceptable

but saying you dont want a poc as a doctor will get you in trouble

That all of these patently and brazenly racist and unconstitutional school admissions policies, scholarships and programs have to be challenged in court, in 21st century America, tells you everything that you need to know about how the vile Dhimmi-crats represent the largest and most stubborn obstacle to the institution of equality of opportunity and colorblind treatment in contemporary American society.

henrybowman | May 29, 2024 at 1:31 am

“The message goes on to emphasize the exclusionary nature of the summit, and explicitly delineates that “[a]llies are not invited to this event.”

What are “allies,” after all? “Allies” are individuals who do not belong to your group, but are expected to perform activities that benefit your group to the exclusion of their own. Allies are not paid for this duty, they are presumed to owe it to you due to the differences in your and their social status.

Therefore, whenever you read the word “allies,” replace it mentally with “slaves,” and you will approximate the true meaning of what is being said.

    smooth in reply to henrybowman. | May 29, 2024 at 9:17 am

    Boston mayor who is asian american is allowed to attend the year end holiday office party for People of Color, but can’t be accompanied by her white husband?

Blacks don’t mind segregation.
I think they want it JUST to have something to wail over.

Eddie Coyle | May 29, 2024 at 8:05 am

The ICSD is actively discriminating against qualified, experienced White males in hiring for teaching positions, as part of a “diversity” push by the largely WHITE woke administrative staff.

Affinity group is a term that has become twisted to mean segregation version 2.0. It doesn’t matter if it consensual by the participants. The legal test is fairly straightforward. Could there be whites only version?

This is easily solved.

Simply have a separate, but equal, event for the non-BIPOC students while the colored event is going on.

Hold it at a local gathering venue. A restaurant or convention space.

No one will mind.

In fact, while you’re at it, set up a old rubber hose next to a water fountain. Cover it in mud and filth. Put a large sign gaudified with fake gold foil and cheap gemstones that says ‘BIPOC ONLY‘ and you’ll have folks out there fighting over the privilege of drinking from a filthy hose while making sure that non-bipoc students are forced to use the plain water fountain.

Randy Wayne | May 29, 2024 at 8:29 am

While the ICSD officials were obsessing about skin color, they forgot about teaching as evidenced by the fact that four schools in the district have failed: And the failed schools do not hurt the students that have parents who pay for private tutors!

E Howard Hunt | May 29, 2024 at 8:32 am

As the hero from Ithaca said, “Aries in his many fits knows no favorites.”

Affinity group on college campus originally meant a shared thematic interest. For example, a table in the student cafeteria reserved for students of Japanese language who wished to practice Japanese conversation. The table was open to anybody regardless of race, who made reasonable best faith efforts to speak in Japanese. Without racial requirement.

The Duke d’Escargot | May 29, 2024 at 10:22 am

“ If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

Thomas Sowell (2013). “Controversial Essays”, p.322, Hoover Press

destroycommunism | May 29, 2024 at 11:11 am

when asked to explain the nba

the schools stated that whites just arent good enough

when asked about educational standards and reading/math rates of poc

the schools had their young ge stapo brood shut down the questioner

With increase in demands for segregated ceremonies, segregated dormitories, segregated social clubs, and so on and so forth — why then the outrage at Justice Thomas’ opinion that Brown v. Board of Education went too far with the insertion of the federal government into segregation issues and remedies?

“After weeks of outcry about rising property tax bills, voters rejected the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) proposed budget by record-setting margins Tuesday, with only 29% voting in favor and 71% opposed.”

ICSD will retaliate by eliminating after-school activities such as sports, music, and art. They will retain DEI.