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Civil rights accusation made against West Iron

By NIKKI YOUNK,Staff Writer

IRON RIVER - An Iron River man has filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) against the West Iron County Public Schools.

The man claimed that his son, a second-grader at Stambaugh Elementary, has been singled out because he is a Native American.

According to the complaint, a white teacher grabbed the student on Jan. 26. The teacher has allegedly grabbed the student multiple times in the past, but the school district has taken no action against the teacher, the complaint added.

"My son has had problems with white students, yet he is written up and the white students are not," the man stated in the complaint. "The respondent (West Iron County Public Schools) is looking for ways to write him up and force him to leave school."

Dave LaFreniere, regional director of the Michigan chapter of the American Indian Movement, has been following the case for years.

"This child has been picked on since kindergarten, the kids beat up on him, but the school administration just sends him home," he said. "The kid has a right to an education."

LaFreniere and the child's parents met with the superintendent, principal, school board members, and teachers in mid-January to discuss the situation, but they could not come to an agreement.

The child's parents then tried to file a complaint against one of the teachers, but the Iron County Prosecutor's office declined to file charges, LaFreniere added.

The civil rights complaint was taken by John Rodman of the MDCR office in Marquette. He was unable to be reached for comment on Friday afternoon after the complaint was issued.

According to the MDCR website, "The Department of Civil Rights works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws and investigates and resolves discrimination complaints."

West Iron County Public Schools acting superintendent Christopher Thomson also could not be reached for comment Friday, but he had previously told The Daily News that he had no comment on the issue.

Nikki Younk's e-mail address is

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