In the Antelope Valley, Black students and students with disabilities are systematically neglected, punished and criminalized under a locally-sanctioned system of discipline that violates state and federal laws and denies them their right to an education. Now NLSLA is representing those students and their families in a major lawsuit against the Antelope Valley Union High School District (AVUHSD) to halt the abusive, illegal practices that have subjected them to irreparable harm.
“The district is destroying these children’s futures,” said NLSLA Attorney Chelsea Helena. “We have done everything possible to get district officials to stop these discriminatory, illegal policies and practices—to no avail. Now we’re supporting parents and students in taking their demands to court.”
School officials in AVUHSD have systematically punished students with disabilities for behaviors associated with their disabilities and created a disciplinary system that seeks to remove Black students and those with disabilities from school—often into the criminal legal system. District policies encourage staff to call the police on students and to place them in highly restrictive settings. It also gives staff discretion to recommend students for expulsion, even for conduct as benign as profanity.
The district’s own reported data demonstrates its remarkable failure to support and protect Black students and those with disabilities. The Antelope Valley district routinely reports drastically more suspensions than the Los Angeles Unified School District—a district that is 21 times its size.
The district has found a novel way to hide its discrimination by frequently classifying expulsions as “transfers” to evade school reporting requirements. Through what is essentially a shadow discipline system, the district transfers mostly Black students out of the general student population and into inadequate placements like continuation schools or independent study. They effectively banish Black students and those with disabilities from school.
NLSLA and its partners filed the lawsuit against the district on behalf of several families and a community group fighting criminalization, racism, and ableism in Antelope Valley schools. The filing was accompanied by the publication of an explosive independent report that indicts the districts’ practices and reveals a deeply discriminatory disciplinary system.