Former first lady Michelle Obama’s brother filed a lawsuit after his young “model student” children were expelled from their college preparatory school following a dispute between his family and school administrators over teachers allegedly using language. inappropriate in class.
Craig Robinson and his wife Kelly appeared on Good morning america on Tuesday to discuss the lawsuit. According to her court filing, the school fired her 9- and 11-year-old sons after the parents complained to the school about inappropriate use of racially charged language such as the word “plantation” during school hours.
“There were repeated uses of racial and ethnic stereotypes that were in actual assignments,” Robinson told the show. “The use of the word plantation, and things of that nature.
“In addition to racial and ethnic stereotyping, there was an insensitivity to socioeconomic status and also a disregard for children who were not physically in the classroom,” he continued.
He added that he and his wife only discovered the use of the language because the lessons were converted to remote learning as a result of Covid-19. The family made the complaints in January and March of last year, in two written letters. One of his children would be fired a month later and the other in June.
In letters to parents, the school wrote that the firings were the result of the Robinsons allegedly “failing to honor previous commitments as a partner to USM and its middle school teachers and administrators.”
But the family claims their sons were fired after “the Robinsons communicated directly with USM faculty and staff about the inclusion of language in various worksheets and projects that was offensive to people of color, people with disabilities, Native Americans, and other underrepresented students.”
They noted in the GMA interview that the school has a history of such incidents.
“Just 10 years ago, the University of Milwaukee had in their fourth grade curriculum that students recreated the Underground Railroad. And the students dressed up as slaves and ran around the school in the dark and the teachers were actually the slave masters who captured these students,” said Kelly Robinson.
The school responded in a lengthy letter posted on its website denying the Robinsons’ claims. The letter also allowed parents to view the classroom assignments in question and judge for themselves whether the content was appropriate.
“Contrary to what has been alleged, our decision not to renew the children in this family was based entirely on the parents’ decision to repeatedly engage in disrespectful, demanding, and bullying behavior toward and in relation to our teachers and administrators.” wrote the University School of Milwaukee school principal Steve Hancock.
He added that the school was “fully prepared to vigorously defend itself against the allegations made in the family’s lawsuit.”
That practice was discontinued after complaints from parents, students and former students, according to GMA.
The school declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing that it was filed with its legal counsel and not with the school directly.