Pro Bono Case Highlighted in Civil Rights Initiative

Attorneys & Professionals

On March 9, 2020, the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law  submitted a letter to the Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting, asking her to investigate school practices that may include the unfair discipline of Black students with disabilities and segregative assignments to schools for those students. The letter highlighted the recent U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware decision in Coalition for Education Reform, et al v. Indian River School District.  The case alleged race and disabilities discrimination by the school district, among other claims. 

Tom McDonald, a partner in the Vorys Washington, D.C. office and former U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, served pro bono as lead counsel for all of the since the start of Coalition for Education Reform, et al v. Indian River School District.  Martha Motley, a partner in the Columbus office, and Tom Whaling, an associate in the Columbus office, assisted McDonald in this case. The case, which is a civil rights case of national consequence, centered around the district's George Washington Carver Academy, a public school located in Frankfort, Delaware.  The lawsuit alleged that this academy has been operated by the Indian River School District as a segregated dumping ground for African-American males ages 3 to 18 in the same school building.  According to our research, over 1,000 African-American male students had been forced through this segregated public school over the last 20 years.  Under the consent order the Carver Academy program will cease to exist at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.  In addition, an agreed upon special master has been appointed to make sure that the Indian River SD follows through with the remedies outlined in the consent order and doesn't return to this discriminatory conduct/policies. 

To read the press release from the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, click here.