MCKEESPORT (KDKA) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) announced a settlement Monday in its federal civil rights challenge against the McKeesport Area School District.
Several weeks ago, 11 students sued the district claiming school officials refused to allow them to form a Black Student Union club.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman told KDKA News last week, the district did not deny the students, but had reservations about outside groups attending the group.
“This was never about a Black Student Union. This was about outside control of a student group that we knew from the beginning was not appropriate or legal to do in our school system,” Holtzman said.
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Under the terms of the settlement, no outside sponsorship or involvement will be allowed. The district is also required to extend the same rights, privileges and benefits they provide to any other non-curricular student activity.
Students will be able to form their club within 10 days of submitting an application to the school. Leaders of the Black Student Union say the goal of the club is to address social issues, school dress code and school suspensions. The group is open to all students, regardless of their race.
“Just to have more some positivity in the community, in the schools, and the environment,” said a McKeesport student named in the lawsuit.
“We just want everyone of all races to have a chance to voice their opinions in this group,” another student said.
“The focus is going to be on students of color inside the McKeesport School District; absolutely everybody is welcome to come and participate in the club,” Vic Walczak, legal director for ACLU-PA, said.
School officials could not be reached for comment Monday night.