Denver school hit with civil rights complaint after 'families of color playground night' surfaces

A parents group filed a complaint alleging illegal segregation at schools in Denver and Illinois

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Schools in Colorado and Illinois are facing federal civil rights complaints after they planned activities that a parents group alleges were illegal forms of segregation.

Parents Defending Education (PDE), an anti-critical race theory (CRT) organization, sent the complaints to the Department of Education's office of civil rights on Friday, alleging that the schools violated legal restrictions on federally funded entities.

The complaints came just after the schools – Centennial Elementary and Downers Grove South High School – gained national attention. 

Centennial had a sign announcing its "families of color playground night." Earlier this week, the school defended the event in a statement provided to Fox News. "Our school leaders met with some of the Black families whose children attend our school to determine ways for these families to feel more included in our school community," the statement said. 

"Some of these families shared with us that, since the only time many of them see one another is at drop-off and pick-up times, we host some events where Black families can meet one another, connect with one another and share their experiences about the school with one another. We are honoring their request. All families are welcome to attend all of our events, and families from a variety of backgrounds have done so."

DENVER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL UNDER FIRE FOR PLANNING ‘FAMILIES OF COLOR PLAYGROUND NIGHT’

In contrast, the school district in Illinois said it quickly removed a flyer for a "students of color field trip opportunity." Anti-CRT researcher Chris Rufo tweeted a photo about the issue on Thursday.  

"The opportunity is open to anyone; however, the coordinator has been trying to encourage more students of color to participate and explore education as a possible career," said Jill Browning, who serves as communications director for Community High School District 99, which includes Downers Grove. 

Children in an elementary school class wearing masks enter the classroom with desks spaced apart as per coronavirus guidelines during summer school sessions in Monterey Park, Calif., July 9, 2020. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Children in an elementary school class wearing masks enter the classroom with desks spaced apart as per coronavirus guidelines during summer school sessions in Monterey Park, Calif., July 9, 2020. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

"As teachers of color are underrepresented in the field of education, there was an emphasis on inviting our students of color to participate. This flier was created by a new staff member, and the filer was immediately removed when we recognized that it could be misinterpreted that the field trip was not open to all students. The recirculation of the former flier online has caused confusion and misinformation."

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PDE President Nicole Neily, a group founder, said both schools engaged in "immoral and unconstitutional" behavior.

"The Centennial Elementary School is the latest in a string of schools across the country treating and separating students on the basis of race," she said in a statement provided to Fox News.

"This practice is both immoral and unconstitutional. Although the ‘families of color playground night’ gained attention this week, we discovered that this program – which is run by the school's ‘dean of culture’ – has been going on since October. PDE filed a public records request with the district yesterday to learn more about how and why this program was approved."

A contact for Centennial Elementary did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment Friday.