NY court: Agency can't probe school civil rights

Jesse Owen / via Flickr.com
June 12, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's top court says the state Division of Human Rights lacks jurisdiction to investigate students' civil rights complaints against their school districts.

The Court of Appeals is reversing two midlevel courts in complaints against the Ithaca City School District and the North Syracuse Central School District.

In the Ithaca case, the division awarded $200,000 each to a girl and her mother after finding school officials failed to adequately respond to racial harassment.

The court majority says public school districts are not an "education corporation or association" under state law that the division can investigate, though students can make discrimination claims to the state education commissioner.

The minority says exempting public schools contradicts the plain language and declared purpose of state Human Rights Law.

The 4-3 ruling was released Tuesday.

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