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DOJ settlement highlights frustrations of parents, students in Davis

DAVIS COUNTY, UtahA settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Davis School District is promising some big changes toward better treatment of students of color.

Many of the parents who pushed for those changes, though, are disappointed it didn’t happen sooner.

Some said they never wanted to have to take the fight this far, but they also said it’s only a first step in helping to make sure discrimination is properly dealt with in Utah Schools.

“We started having issues as soon as she entered kindergarten,” said Allison Schlicter.

Schlicter said when her daughter, Amina, was mistreated by other students, the principal at the time was dismissive.

The Schlicter family.

“When my little girl was told that her skin and her hair were stupid, she told me it was like her clothes were unfashionable and it wasn’t a big deal,” she said.

And that was just one of many incidents.

“It was crushing her soul,” said Schlicter.

Enough so that she finally took action.

“I pulled my kid out of Davis School District and I drove her to Rose Park for three years,” she said.

Allison Schlichter

But now, Amina is back in Davis schools and Allison Schlicter is concerned.

“Children are entitled to see themselves reflected and valued in their environments,” she said.

Shauntel Black said her son has suffered painful harassment over the years.

She said it was disappointing that the problem had to be taken to the Department of Justice.

“Am I shocked by it? Nope. People of color experience this every single day, so I’m not surprised by it, just disappointed,” she said.

Shauntel Black

While both parents are optimistic about the promised changes, they also say a widespread change will take a lot of work.

“They shouldn’t be tolerated,” said Schlicter. “They should be part of the norm.”

Some of the outlined changes will include a new department to handle complaints of discrimination, better training and a centralized electronic reporting system.

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