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Conservative law firm threatens MMSD with lawsuit over segregation claims

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A conservative law firm threatened to sue the Madison Metropolitan School District over an email sent to West High School families inviting them to participate in discussion of police brutality.

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The email gave two links to video conferences for families to join: one for white parents and one for parents of color.

The Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty claimed that the email amounted to "racial segregation."

A spokesperson for the school district called the email to families "poorly worded" but also said the separate links reflected MMSD's use of the "Affinity Group Model."

"The Affinity Group model is a well established method to provide opportunity for people who share a common identity to connect with other people who share aspects of their identity, especially in a situation where they feel their identity is marginalized," the district spokesperson said.

WILL sent a letter to the district's superintendent, Dr. Carlton Jenkins, Monday laying out their complaints against the use of separate video conferences for families based on race.

"Madison West’s justifications for racial segregation are indistinguishable
from the segregationists of the 1950s," the letter said. "These arguments are no different from those advanced by the proponents of Jim Crow."

A spokesperson for the law firm said in an email to news organizations that the letter amounted to "a warning ... of potential legal action."

The email to families of Madison West High School students said that creating space for discussions of police brutality in the wake of the Derek Chauvin trial was needed.

"The most important thing we can do for our students and their families is to continue our work to build strong, trusting relationships as we engage them though virtual and face-to-face learning," the email said. "We want to work together to help our students and families feel safe, discuss challenging issues productively, and think about how they can make positive changes in our community."

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JT Cestkowski

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