Evanston Township High School in Illinois is facing a civil rights complaint after offering several math courses that restrict enrollment to students based on their race, according to a recently obtained civil rights complaint.
Mark Perry, senior fellow at Do No Harm, a medical watchdog group, filed a civil rights complaint to the Chicago Office of Civil Rights against Evanston Township High School for allegedly offering several algebra, calculus and precalculus course codes open only to students who are black or “latinx.”
The 2023–2024 course catalog identified several classes that were “restricted to students who identify as Latinx, all genders,” or restricted to students who “identify as Black, all genders.” For example, the school offered a “AP [Advanced Placement] Calculus AB” class which is equivalent to “one semester of college calculus” but the class code was “restricted to students who identify as Black, all genders,” according to the course catalog.
The civil rights complaint comes as the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has seen a record high number of complaints filed in the past year. From October 2021 to September 2022, complaints alleging discrimination in the nation’s schools almost doubled from the previous year, with nearly 19,000 filed, according to The New York Times. Most of the complaints name discrimination on the basis of race and sex.
In January, Evanston Township School District’s board of education discussed how it would address the low enrollment of students of color in accelerated courses, according to the Daily Northwestern. Pete Bavis, the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, proposed that the school make available to students identity–based courses to make the accelerated classes more accessible to underrepresented groups.
However, this is not the first time Evanston Township High School has been accused of discrimination. In 2019, the school district settled a lawsuit claiming discrimination against black and Hispanic students in its Advanced Placement courses. The settlement required the school district to make changes to its admissions process and to provide more support for students of color.
The school district has yet to respond to the civil rights complaint. It remains to be seen how the school will handle the allegations. In the meantime, it is clear that the issue of racial discrimination in education is still a pressing issue in the United States.