Ruling overturns discrimination cases
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NEW YORK -- The state's highest court has come down with a ruling, overturning two local discrimination cases, one involving the Ithaca School District, the other in Cicero-North Syracuse. In both cases, the state Division of Human Rights stepped in to investigate claims of African American students being harassed, racially insulted and threatened by their white peers.
However, in a four to three decision, the State Court of Appeals ruled that the Division of Human Rights has no authority to investigate or punish acts of discrimination in New York's public schools.
The case in Ithaca has been ongoing since 2005, when Amelia Kearney sued the school district, alleging her daughter was viciously harassed and even attacked by other students at DeWitt Middle School because of her race. She claimed her daughter's grades fell and her mental health deteriorated as a result, and the district's intervention was ineffective.
A lower court had awarded $200,000 in damages to both Kearney and her daughter. However, the Appellate Court ruling nullifies that result.