Vermilion Parish (La.) Sheriff Michael Couvillon refused to turn over public records related to the detention of individuals suspected of being undocumented. The SPLC requested the records under the Louisiana Public Records Act to determine if the sheriff’s office was holding immigrants in jail for prolonged periods of time due to unconstitutional racial profiling.
Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System failed to provide adequate translation and interpretation services for Spanish-speaking parents with limited English proficiency and created an environment hostile to Latino students. The school system provided school notices in English to English-speaking parents but failed to provide this information to Spanish-speaking parents in Spanish – discriminating against these students and violating state and federal law. The SPLC filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, resulting in a settlement agreement between the school system and federal authorities.
African-American students in several Florida school districts were subjected to harsh disciplinary policies at a far higher rate than their white classmates. These students were often subjected to long-term suspensions, expulsions and even arrested at school for relatively minor misconduct.
The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry in North Carolina failed to provide female veterans with the same job training classes male veterans received through the organization’s federally funded programs. Instead, female veterans were offered classes such as knitting, art therapy, yoga, meditation, how to de-clutter your room, self-esteem and Bible study. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a sex discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor against the organization.
Almost two years after finding that Mississippi’s Jackson Public School District violated federal special education law, the Mississippi Department of Education had failed to hold the district accountable and ensure that its students with disabilities were receiving services required by federal law. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit in 2012 against the department on behalf of these students.
North Carolina’s Wake County Public School System denied Spanish-speaking parents the opportunity to participate in their children’s education. The school system provided school notices, such as notices of long-term suspensions and special education materials, in English to English-speaking parents but failed to provide this information to Spanish-speaking parents in Spanish – discriminating against these students and violating state and federal law. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Advocates for Children’s Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, filed a complaint against the school district with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. This complaint resulted in the school district agreeing to develop a plan to ensure Spanish-speaking parents have the opportunity to participate in their child’s education.
African-American students and students with disabilities in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public Schools were disproportionately referred to alternative school, where they often languish for months or even years before returning to regular classes. These students often were referred to alternative schools for minor misconduct, such as disrespectful behavior, use of profanity, disrupting class and horseplay.
Prisoners at the Orleans Parish Prison in Louisiana endured rampant violence, multiple sexual assaults and neglect. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman, charging the sheriff’s indifference created the brutal and inhumane conditions at the jail. The SPLC reached an agreement with officials in December 2012 to address the brutal and inhumane conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of Polk County youth, which charges that Polk County detains youth charged as juveniles under adult standards. It also charges that Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd allows guards to brutalize children and fails to provide these youth with adequate educational and rehabilitative services.
Tracey Cooper-Harris, an Army veteran, was denied disabled veteran benefits for her spouse, though her same-sex marriage was recognized by California. The SPLC filed suit on behalf of Cooper-Harris and her wife, charging that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) discriminated against them by denying these benefits while granting them to spouses in heterosexual marriages. The lawsuit resulted in a historic ruling that declared unconstitutional sections of a statute that prevented the VA from granting benefits to her spouse.