Michelle Obama’s brother and his wife filed a lawsuit alleging racial bias at a Milwaukee private school, saying that when they raised concerns, the school retaliated by expelling their sons.
Craig and Kelly Robinson said on Good Morning America Tuesday that their two sons were expelled from University School Milwaukee after the parents conveyed their concerns about alleged bias and mistreatment of students of color.
In a public letter to the USM community, the Robinsons said they noticed the problems when they helped their sons during pandemic virtual schooling.
“We were surprised and troubled by the repeated use of racial and ethnic stereotypes in certain assignments. We also witnessed a disregard for children who were not physically present in class and an apparent insensitivity to socio-economic status — an issue that was put in stark relief during the pandemic,” the Robinsons wrote.
In their letter, the Robinsons said they raised their issues “through the appropriate channels” and were “stunned and deeply disappointed when the school reacted with “sharp resistance and hostility.”
They said their sons were summarily dismissed from the school with no notice, no chance to appeal and no credible explanation for why USM would take “such Draconian action.”
USM Head of School Steve Hancock said in a letter to families with students in the school that the students were expelled not because racial bias issues were raised, but because the Robinsons violated school policies in the way they communicated their concerns.
In their open letter, the Robinsons described some examples of what they describe as bias and insensitivity.
“We are aware of instances in which white students have regularly used racial epithets, such as the N-word; when brought to USM’s attention, administrators dismissed the seriousness of the behavior, noting that those using such abhorrent language on campus were ‘good kids,'” the Robinsons wrote in their letter.
They also said students of color have been subjected to “harsher disciplinary actions than their white counterparts who engaged in similar conduct.”
Hancock told Kelly Robinson in an email that she had engaged in “disrespectful and deflating” communications.
The Robinsons are suing for financial compensation but said in their letter any money they receive as a result of the lawsuit would be put toward initiatives designed to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in schools.
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