Lawsuit settled in case brought by biracial student

Davis School District in northern Utah has agreed to settle a lawsuit for $62,500. The biracial student was shut in the doors of a school district bus and dangled outside as the bus moved forward.

The mother of the biracial child sued the school district, the transportation director, and the driver. The lawsuit stated that there had been at least three other reports of the driver harassing multiracial students previously. The boy, who was a minor and not named in the lawsuit, was the only student of color on the bus at the time. He is one of 39 multiracial students currently at his school.

The boy will receive $21,250 and the remaining $41,250 will go to the law firm that handled the case. The agreement stipulates that he can use up to $500 per school year to attend a camp for black youth “where he can feel safe and included.” He can also spend $1,000 for a laptop when he starts high school and $5,000 for a car when he turns 16. The rest of the money will remain in a trust account until he turns 18.

The District is not required to offer any diversity training and no policies have changed because of the incident. Whether going to a camp for black youth will make him feel safe and included is an odd settlement and we’ll have to see how that works out. This is not a great answer for either side in this case. The boy will get rewards (the laptop and car) that have nothing to do with the treatment he received. The school district got to pay its way out of the problem without having to change any policies or even apologize for his emotional pain. The bus driver retired.

One reason we insist on keeping track of the number of biracial students there are is because racial and ethnic data are useful in proving statistics in discrimination cases. If you refuse to fill out complete racial information for your biracial and multiracial kids, children like them could be impacted. We need to be honest and thorough.

I don’t think the solution is to give the children things that may make them feel better, but have nothing to do with the situation. Nor should the school only be made to pay without any staff or administrative changes. Let’s think in the future about how all multiracial children can be helped when it comes to rectifying discrimination.

It would be great to be able to do away with discrimination and no longer have to face these lawsuits and racist actions. But like the school bus driver said in the Davis case when asked if he was racist, “No, look at my dog. He’s as black as he could be.” Enough said?

Opinion by Susan Graham for Project RACE