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RALEIGH, N.C. A complaint filed Wednesday, January 22 by Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS) and a coalition of local, state and national advocacy organizations, including the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, alleges a pattern of discrimination and unlawful criminalization caused by school policing policies and practices in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). 

The complaint was filed against the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, eight police departments in Wake County and the WCPSS, alleging violations under the U.S. Constitution, Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All eight students named in the Complaint are African-American and seven are students with disabilities (SWD). The complaint is one of the most comprehensive complaints ever filed about school policing and gets to the heart of a civil rights crisis impacting schools and communities across the country. It is being filed as a last resort after years of grievances, internal affairs complaints, meetings and other ignored pleas and unsuccessful advocacy measures. 

As the number of law enforcement officers patrolling WCPSS schools on a full-time basis – called school resource officers or SROs – has increased, so too has the percentage of delinquency complaints in Wake County that are school-based. During 2012-13, 42 percent of all delinquency complaints were school-based.

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BOLIVIA, NC – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) yesterday sent a public records request to the Brunswick County Board of Education and the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners seeking all communications between officials related to recent efforts to ban Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” from Brunswick County Advanced Placement (AP) English classes.

The public records request, filed under North Carolina public records laws, also seeks communications regarding any other proposed curriculum changes or plans for banning other works of literature from Brunswick County public schools going back to the 2012-2013 school year.

“The public deserves to know the real motivation and goals behind this disturbing movement to ban classic works of literature from Brunswick County public schools,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director for the ACLU-NCLF, which has closely monitored the situation and had staff members present at board meetings. “Some Brunswick County officials have suggested that seeking to ban ‘The Color Purple’ may just be a first step in a much larger campaign to purge public school curriculum. We have been contacted by many local citizens who object to these attacks on the freedom to read and who are concerned about where this all may lead. We continue to urge the board to support academic freedom and reject calls to ban or make it harder for students to read great works of literature that promote critical thinking and dialogue.” 

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Acclaimed civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson has successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, won a MacArthur “genius” grant, garnered more than one million views on YouTube, and even kept his composure while debating Stephen Colbert’s famously thick-headed character on “The Colbert Report.”

On February 15, he will speak to the ACLU of North Carolina and its members when he serves as keynote speaker at our 45th Annual Frank Porter Graham Awards Ceremony in Chapel Hill. 

Make your reservations to see Stevenson and this year's honorees by calling 919-834-3466 to pay by credit card, or mail a check to ACLU-NCLF, P.O. Box 28004, Raleigh, NC 27611. Reservations are $100 per person, or purchase a table for ten people for $1,000 to be a sponsor of this event.

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BOLIVIA, N.C. – Today the Brunswick County Board of Education voted 3-2 to uphold a decision by the county superintendent to keep Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple,” as part of the school system’s high school curriculum. The vote came after the board received public testimony from parents, students, educators, and community members.

In response, Chris Brook, Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation, released the following statement:  

“Today’s vote marks a victory for academic freedom and the rights of students. The freedom to read is just as essential to a healthy democracy as the freedom of speech and all other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Literary classics such as ‘The Color Purple’ are part of high school curricula across the country precisely because they tackle difficult and challenging topics that compel students to think critically about the world around them. When we deny students access to certain books or ideas, we deny them access to knowledge and the tools necessary for critical thinking. We are glad the board did the right thing today, and we will continue to monitor the situation going forward.”

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