U.S. Department of Education to Investigate Modesto City Schools After Hate Crime Complaint

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MODESTO --

The federal government will launch a civil rights probe into Modesto City Schools, stemming from an incident that FOX40 told you about in August 2015, where a 12-year-old girl became the victim of a hate crime.

Advocates for Justice, the group that spoke on Monday about the investigation, claims the district failed their kids.

In a united front, two Modesto women, two parents, say they’re fighting for the education of all students.

"I don’t want them to have to fight to go to school. They shouldn’t have to fight when they go to school, they’re going to school to learn,” Modesto resident Rita Tillery said.

"We all stand up here not just for her granddaughter or my son, we stand up here for all kids,” Tanya Porter said.

In March, Porter’s son was the victim named in a Snapchat video of a teen with a noose and a gun.

Last August, FOX40 reported about Tillery’s 12-year-old granddaughter, NuPhaeya Hassen. While at a bus stop, she said she was attacked by a 12-year-old boy who claimed he was with the KKK and a racist. Tillery said her granddaughter acted in self-defense, slapped him and was suspended by Modesto City Schools.

“We have moved her because of the situation, but no, she has not, they have not rescinded or anything. In fact, I haven’t heard anything else from Modesto City Schools,” Tillery said.

The women and their lawyer announced an investigation into the school district by the U.S. Department of Education in response to Tillery’s complaint about Hassen’s suspension.

“The district failed to respond appropriately and effectively to a notice of harassment,” Jacq M. Wilson, their attorney, said.

Wilson added the federal government will also look into another allegation.

He said after they filed an open records request from the district, they found African-American boys are suspended or expelled more than other kids.

“Four hundred twelve African American students enrolled in grade seventh through eighth in Modesto City Schools, those young boys enrolled in grades seventh through eighth in Modesto City Schools, those young boys were suspended at an astonishing 582 times,” Wilson claimed.

However, Modesto City Schools claims they’ve seen decrease in the number of suspensions across the board.

"We've dramatically decreased the suspensions and expulsions across all of our student groups here in the district,” said Becky Fortuna, a spokeswoman for the school district.

Parents said this investigation is more than these two hate crimes, it’s their campaign for access to proper and safe education for all children.

"Discrimination and the unfair practices, it has to stop,” Porter said.

Wilson also claimed the reason why suspensions have decreased across the board is because the school district is transferring African-American and high-needs students to continuation schools.