Nicole Neily is president of Parents Defending Education, the organization behind the lawsuit filed last week. She explains to AFN that her group actually filed a complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights in May against Wellesley Public Schools.
"We heard that they were holding segregated 'affinity groups' separating children on the basis of race," says "Obviously, this is a huge concern because it violates Brown v. Board of Education."
According to the school system, those affinity groups allow "people within an identity group to openly share their experiences without risk of feeling like they will offend someone from another group, and without another group's voices." Parents Defending Education argues that that demonstrates the policy was designed to be exclusionary.
While calling the policy fundamentally unconstitutional, Neily says it is also immoral.
"After we filed that and publicized it, we started hearing from more families in the district about lots of other problems," says Neily. "It reached such a point and such a volume that we [determined] this district really does have a pattern and practice of violating students' rights.
"So, on Tuesday [last week] we filed a federal lawsuit charging that the segregated affinity groups are a violation both of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under Title VI as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment."
Parents Defending Education is also challenging what Neily calls an "onerous" and "biased" speech policy that encourages students to report on each other, something she says has chilled student speech altogether. "That's a violation of students' First Amendment rights, as well as the Massachusetts Students' Freedom of Expression law," she adds.
The lawsuit also alleges the school district told students that the phrase "Blue Lives Matter" – in support of law enforcement – is associated with white supremacy.