The ACLU Foundation of Southern California and the law firm Traber & Voorhees today announced settlement agreements that will protect students in Glendale Unified School District (GUSD) from discrimination as well as arbitrary detentions and searches by police officers on campus. The settlement agreements reached between eight students, GUSD and the Glendale Police Department (GPD) arise from an alleged incident of racial profiling and illegal search and seizure at Hoover High School in 2010 and resolve all claims against the school district and police department.
“We commend Glendale Unified and the City of Glendale for using this incident as an opportunity to review their current practices and adopt new policies that will ensure that students’ rights are protected on campus,” said David Sapp, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California. “We appreciate how seriously they took this issue from the outset and believe that the new policies and practices will serve as models for other school districts and police departments to ensure that our public school campuses foster positive learning environments where students feel safe and welcome.”
The suit alleged that, on September 24, 2010, school officials directed more than 50 Latino students at Hoover High School into two classrooms, where they were interrogated by officers from the GPD and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and forced to pose for mock mugshots. The complaint also alleged that officials targeted Latino students because of their race, and that the police, probation officers, and school officials involved had no evidence that the students were violating any laws or breaking school rules at the time they were singled out.
“I’m happy that what happened to us won’t happen to anyone else,” said Ashley Flores, an A student who was 16 when she was targeted in the round-up. “I’ve never been in trouble, and it was confusing, terrifying and humiliating.”
Under the settlements, joint operations between the school officials and police must be approved by the superintendent, except in emergencies. Glendale Unified clarified that its policies governing teachers’ and administrators’ interactions with police, including the requirement that parents be notified when students are interrogated by police, apply both to officers entering from off-campus and those permanently assigned to schools. The Glendale Police Department agreed to train all of its officers on department policies related to interactions with students on campus and to revise its policies regarding racial profiling.
Both agencies also agreed to allow independent verification that all information collected during the incident has been destroyed. The agencies also paid monetary damages and attorney’s fees. In return, the students will dismiss their claims against the City of Glendale and all employees of the Glendale Police Department and Glendale Unified who were involved in the incident.
“Unlike most cities, police departments or school districts, Glendale did not try to sweep this under the rug. To their credit, Glendale and the school district recognized very early that the incident raised serious concerns that needed to be addressed and could not have happened if the Police Chief and the School Superintendent had been notified of the operation in advance. They have adopted measures to make sure this can’t happen again,” said Bert Voorhees of Traber & Voorhees. “We hope that L.A. County and the LAPD will also recognize that what was done to these students was inexcusable and adopt similar measures.”
The case, K.L. v. City of Glendale, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Claims against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Probation Department for their involvement in planning and executing the roundup remain pending.