AFN previously reported that though the contract language does not specifically say white teachers would be laid off ahead of teachers of color, critics assert that is what the effect would be. The contract exempts "teachers who are members of populations underrepresented among licensed teachers in the district," as well as alumni of historically black and Hispanic colleges and of tribal colleges.
Around 60% of the district's teachers are white, while more than 60% of the students are from racial minorities.
James Dickey, senior counsel at the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), calls it "mind-boggling" that race-discrimination would be written into a document in 2022.
"The essence of our Constitution's Equal Protection Clause and the protections against racial discrimination in the Civil Rights Act that were really fought for during the civil rights movement is that you simply do not judge people by the color of their skin," Dickey notes. "You judge by the content of character. You judge by merit, normally."
He points out that some school districts have a seniority system in place.
"But under no circumstances can you actually discriminate against someone just because they're white," the attorney continues. "The same would apply if the situation were reversed. If the contact had said that you can get fired because you're black, that would be an absolute outrage; everyone would be outraged by that."
UMLC is a conservative nonprofit that often takes on public employee unions. It has brought litigation over such issues as COVID-19 mask mandates and displays of Black Lives Matter posters.