A school in Lillestrom has been discriminating against students based on their race for more than two years. Now more students have to change classes.
In 2020, 76 students started 1st grade at a primary school in Lilleström. They were divided into four classes.
The student’s parents soon discovered something unusual. In December of the same year, they sent a concern to the municipality.
“Parents’ concern is linked to a skewed distribution in terms of diversity in this year’s classes, with the proportion of language minority children in the four classes looking like this: approx. 30%, 25% and 10%, 75% of the class we represent,” they wrote.
On the other hand, the municipality felt that there was no basis for changing the classes.
Changing classes is necessary
Currently students are in Phase 3. The division of classes is still the same. Meanwhile, parents have complained to the Organization Against Public Discrimination (OMOD). Eventually, the case ended up on the table of the discrimination board.
Now the conclusion is clear:
“The municipality of Lilleström discriminates against students going to phase 3 [skolens navn]school year 2022/23, due to ethnicity”.
The Discrimination Board did not reproduce the name of the school. Optenposten did not know which school it was about.
In the verdict, the tribunal directed the municipality to shift the classes before the new academic year begins on August 17. Otherwise, the municipality will be fined NOK 5,000 every working day, including Saturdays.
– This is a serious matter, which the tribunal also points to in its assessment of whether to issue an order, says the Discrimination Tribunal’s Acting Press Officer, Angelin Kamersvik.
Unmatched against all odds
The school and municipality say the students’ race was not known when the classes were created. The division took place on the basis of language ability, social ties and place of residence of the children, among others. So they believe that the racial spread in step is a coincidence.
The Tribunal also agrees. After looking at the class list, they came to the conclusion that it cannot be proved that the municipality used caste as the criterion while dividing the classes.
“Even if distribution has a very significant effect, this is statistically unlikely,” they write.
He has indirectly discriminated
However, the tribunal concluded that the municipality was indirectly prejudiced. They point to the fact that all students, especially those with Western backgrounds, lose out due to skewed distribution. Then they lose the opportunity to share a language community and a contact surface with Norwegian students.
The skewed distribution has been going on for almost three school years. Although the municipality was aware of this in 2020. So Nemta believes that the municipality has shown little inclination to change.
According to the school, that’s because the class worked well. Nevertheless, the municipality decided to change the classes before the decision of the discrimination board was clear.
Nemda hopes the case will alert other schools to the possibility of discriminating against students based on race.
– Even if other criteria are used as a starting point to group classes, Gammerswick says school owners need to know whether class divisions are actually separating students by race.
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