Student Athlete Settles Claims of Racial Discrimination with Western Brown Local School District Board of Education for $200,000

Posted Date: March 31st, 2017 |

Elijah “Eli” Fulton recently settled his racial discrimination lawsuit in the United States District Court against the southern Ohio Western Brown Local School District Board of Education. Eli was represented by Eric Jones of the Jones Law Group and Sonia Walker of the Calig Law Firm. The lawsuit alleged that Eli was harassed based on his race for three years during his middle and high school education and that Western Brown failed to take appropriate action to protect him. WLTW5 News Story

In an Order denying Westerns Brown’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Magistrate Stephanie K. Bowman wrote that Fulton had, “suffered racial harassment for three years that ultimately forced him out of the Western Brown School District” and advised that “a reasonable jury could find that the district’s responses to the racial harassment Fulton endured were insufficient” and that, despite his complaints, the board remained indifferent.

“My case proves there are real consequences for this kind of behavior,” said Fulton. “I hope it shows people it’s important to not let obstacles others place in our way derail us from our dreams. I used the ridicule I endured at Western Brown as motivation, instead of letting it ruin me.” Eli transferred from Western Brown to Roger Bacon High School in Cincinnati in which he excelled in basketball. Eli’s determination and strong work ethic earned him an academic scholarship to Capital University where he is currently attending.

Despite having policies in place to protect students from discrimination, Office of Civil Rights found sufficient evidence of a lack of knowledge of these policies within the Western Brown School District and a failure to train staff and administrators to recognize and address the racial and ethnic intolerance. In 2015, the district signed a resolution agreement requiring the district to revise its policies, train employees and students, and implement a student facilitation program where the district will identify and address racial issues and biases in the high school.

“While we are extremely gratified to have been able to settle this matter on Eli’s behalf, we are terribly discouraged that we are seeing a repeated pattern of racial discrimination in the southern Ohio school district[s],” said Sonia Walker of The Calig Law Firm. “We do, however, feel justified that, once again, we find ourselves on the right side of the law, and that Magistrate Bowman and the Court recognize the seriousness of the situation.”

This is the second case Jones and Calig have settled in the last year involving southern Ohio school districts. The first was the Brooks v. Ripley Union Lewis Huntington School District, also located in Brown County, on behalf of three minority students. “Last week we filed a third federal discrimination lawsuit on behalf of another student in Brown County, Washington vs. Ripley Union Lewis Huntington School District,” said Eric Jones of The Jones Law Group. “It saddens me that I receive calls from students alleging discrimination every week. We will continue to fight for the rights of minorities and send a strong message discrimination will not be tolerated, especially against children. Unfortunately, I anticipate many more law suits will be filed before we will see any substantive changes.”

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