Latino and African American Students Achieve Victory in Landmark Settlement with Kern High School District

On July 24, 2017, the Kern High School District (KHSD) Board of Trustees approved a landmark settlement with the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging historic changes to the district's school discipline policies that disproportionately impact students of color. The settlement, the first of its kind in California, includes an immediate change to KHSD discipline practices and an acknowledgment by the school district that students of color face higher rates of discipline than white students. A WSGR pro bono team joined a coalition of civil rights organizations, including California Rural Legal Assistance, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Equal Justice Society, and Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance to represent the plaintiffs in the matter.

The settlement with KHSD Board of Trustees is the result of a three-year court battle to stop years of discriminatory discipline practices that deprived African American and Latino students of their right to an education. KHSD agreed to implement major policy changes to reduce the disproportionate suspensions, expulsions, and involuntary school transfers of African American and Latino students. The settlement also provides for community input at special community meetings held two times per year, where the district will present data and the community will have the opportunity to present concerns.

The WSGR pro bono team that was part of the coalition representing the plaintiffs in the matter included associate Joni Ostler and partner Steve Guggenheim.

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