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W.I.H. v. Winner School District 59-2

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Central Division

April 29, 2014

W.I.H. and J.I.H, minors by and through YVETIE IRON HEART, their mother, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
WINNER SCHOOL DISTRICT 59-2; BRUCE CARRIER, in his official capacity as Superintendent of the Winner School District; BRIAN NAASZ, individually and in his official capacity as Principal of Winner Middle School; and GERALD WITTE, in his official capacity as Principal of Winner High School, Defendants.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

CHARLES B. KORNMANN, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs instituted this action contending that defendants punish Native American students more harshly and more frequently than similarly situated Caucasian students, that the defendant District maintains a racially hostile educational environment, and engages in racially discriminatory policies, customs, and practices. This matter was certified as a class action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 on behalf of the following class of plaintiffs:

All Native American students currently enrolled or who will in the future enroll in Winner Middle School or Winner High School.

Class counsel and counsel for the defendants filed a joint motion for approval of a settlement and proposed consent decree. Notices of the proposed settlement and of a fairness hearing were given to the class members. A consent decree was entered on December 10, 2007.

Counsel have filed a joint motion for approval of an amended consent decree. Notices of the proposed amended consent decree and of a fairness hearing were given to the class members. No objections were filed. This matter came on for a telephonic fairness hearing on April 10, 2014.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Notice of the proposed amended consent decree was given to current class members as ordered.

2. Additional means of notice was also given to ensure all class members had notice.

3. The notice to the class adequately described the terms of the amended consent decree and the process for objecting to the amended consent decree.

4. No class member objected to the entry of the amended consent decree.

5. The original consent decree set forth a plan for developing and implementing certain "benchmarks, " i.e., programs or objectives designed to remedy the claimed hostile environment at the Winner Schools.

6. These benchmarks were to be developed and implemented by a group made up of representatives from the Winner School District staff and faculty, the Winner School Board, the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Education Department, and the Native American Winner and Ideal communities.

7. The original consent decree was to remain in effect until defendants complied with all benchmarks for four consecutive school years, at which time ...


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