indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Sovereignty and E-Commerce:  Innovating and Reshaping the  Borders of Indian Country - Arizona State University Third Annual Tribal Government E-Commerce CLE Conference
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Cronkite News: Havasupai students sue over failures in federal education system

Filed Under: Education | Law | National
More on: arizona, bia, bie, cronkite news, havasupai
     
   

The view of the Grand Canyon from Havasupai Hilltop. The trail snakes along the bottom of the canyon. Photo by Bri Cossavella / Cronkite News

Lawsuit claims Havasupai students are deprived of ‘basic general education’
By Lily Altavena
Cronkite News
cronkitenews.azpbs.org

Nine students in the Havasupai Nation have filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming that agencies including the Bureau of Indian Education “have knowingly failed to provide basic general education” to children in the remote area of Arizona.

The suit revolves around Havasupai Elementary in the small village of Supai within the Grand Canyon, accessed only through an eight-mile hike or by helicopter. With about 75 total students, according to 2012-2013 BIE numbers – the latest numbers available – the school is small. But parents involved in the lawsuit say its problems are critical. Among their complaints: the school is understaffed, does not provide a general education curriculum, and lacks a system for offering special education.

“This is a landmark civil rights case,” said Alexis DeLaCruz, an attorney with the Native American Disability Law Center, one of the firms involved in the case. “This is the first time anyone has ever filed a lawsuit attempting to address the wholesale denial of equal education opportunities to students attending a BIE school.”

According to the complaint, Havasupai Elementary is so chronically understaffed that the school has been shut down “for weeks at a time” and that “there is no science, history, social studies, foreign language, arts, or physical education curriculum.”

The Bureau of Indian Education, a defendant in the case, told Cronkite News that the agency does not provide comment on pending litigation.

Laila R. is one of the parents who has signed on to the lawsuit. She is only using her first name in the lawsuit and in interviews to protect the identity of her children. She had to send her oldest son to high school outside of the Havasupai reservation. There are no options for high schoolers in the area.

Laila R. eventually decided to take her whole family out of Supai, moving to Yavapai County, because she worried that her younger son was not getting a decent education.

“It made me leave, you know, my culture, my way of life and now I have to kind of put that aside and focus on my kids because my kids have to survive,” she said in an interview with Cronkite News.

Havasupai Nation Chairman Don E. Watahomigie said the school’s problems take a toll on the entire community.

“It’s a burden: a burden all the way around because the way the school is graduating eighth-graders who are not ready for high school yet,” he said.

About 16 percent of students at Havasupai Elementary are proficient in reading and zero percent are labeled as advanced, according to 2012-2013 data from the BIE. One hundred percent of the students are at a basic level in math and science. DeLaCruz said a persistent lack of proficiency in these subjects hamper students in finding a high school to attend.

“Because of the substandard education that the children who attend the school are provided, students cannot meet entrance and admission requirements for admission to even other BIE schools,” she said.

Other claims in the case:
• The school practices “excessive exclusionary discipline.” The complaint alleges that disciplinary actions cause one plaintiff to miss half of instruction time during the week.
• The advisory school board is not included in decision-making. Community members do not have access to recent school data and there is a “pattern of retaliation” against community members who speak up about the school, according to the complaint.
• Students with disabilities do not have equal access to education. The needs of students with disabilities are not being met, DeLaCruz said. Those needs include specialized instruction and necessary accommodations.

Laila R. is looking for a new job to support her family after the move. Her sons are at a public school now, but she said they are reeling from the effects of a BIE education: her oldest son failed many of his ninth-grade classes. She is now an adamant proponent for their education.

“I don’t want them to fail in life but to be successful,” she said.

These Native education issues go beyond the Havasupai Tribe, DeLaCruz said.

“The examples you see out of Havasupai really do face Native American children attending BIE schools across the country,” she said.

The federal government has 30 days to respond to the complaint. Nothing in court has been scheduled yet.

Note: This article is published via a Creative Commons license. Cronkite News is produced by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Additional Coverage:
Barely Two R’s Are Taught at School That Led Tribe to Sue U.S. (The New York Times 1/23)
Havasupai students sue federal government for better teachers (The Arizona Republic 1/18)
U.S. government has ‘dismally failed’ to educate Native American children, lawsuit alleges (The Washington Post 1/12)
The Longstanding Crisis Facing Tribal Schools (The Atlantic 1/12)
Lawsuit faults Bureau of Indian Education schools (AP 1/12)
9 Havasupai Native American children are suing the US Bureau of Indian Education. Here's why. (Mic 1/12)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Supreme Court takes no action on long-running tribal land case (4/24)
Tim Giago: Sovereignty at risk with Donald Trump in White House (4/24)
Native Sun News Today: Chickasaw citizen donates prom dresses (4/24)
Steve Russell: The best advertisement for an education in America (4/24)
Terese Mailhot: Maybe some people should be able to play Indian (4/24)
Charles Kader: Tribal communities still face threats to their lands (4/24)
Shutdown of federal government looms ahead of April 28 deadline (4/24)
Confederate monuments start coming down as Jackson stays put (4/24)
Blackfeet Nation citizens approve historic water rights settlement (4/21)
Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River Sioux woman still walking (4/21)
James Giago Davies: Our future is not bleak but bright with promise (4/21)
Rosalyn LaPier: Tradition blends with science in tribal communities (4/21)
Simon Moya-Smith: Media continues to peddle in Indian stereotypes (4/21)
Steven Newcomb: Bill in California dehumanizes indigenous peoples (4/21)
American Indian Library Association battles Trump's big budget cut (4/21)
Navajo Nation citizen faces death penalty for murder of tribal officer (4/21)
Meskwaki Tribe diversifies economy with barbecue sauces and more (4/21)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must keep fighting despite gaming win (4/21)
Native Sun News Today: Body of missing Cheyenne River man found (4/20)
Ivan Star Comes Out: True tribal histories are concealed in America (4/20)
Steve Russell: Thoughts about sovereignty and tribal governments (4/20)
Dwanna Robertson: Dispelling a common myth about tribal gaming (4/20)
Whiteclay liquor stores ordered to shut down after losing licenses (4/20)
Cherokee Nation blames pharmaceutical industry for opioid crisis (4/20)
Eastern Cherokee citizens back chief amid call for impeachment (4/20)
North Carolina woman punished for abducting Cherokee children (4/20)
Ramapough Lenape Nation denied permit for anti-pipeline camp (4/20)
Ho-Chunk Nation remains confident as rival tribe sues over casino (4/20)
Nottawaseppi Huron Band invests casino funds in unique project (4/20)
Pechanga Band reaches midway point of $285M casino expansion (4/20)
More data needed to address human trafficking in Indian Country (4/19)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee set for 1st field oversight hearing (4/19)
Navajo Nation Council rejects bill to change name to 'Dine Nation' (4/19)
Non-Indian tenant loses bid to stay on Colorado River Reservation (4/19)
Native Sun News Today: Cheyenne River citizen opens bookstore (4/19)
Cheyenne-Arapaho citizen honored for law enforcement service (4/19)
Cronkite News: Attorney General links sanctuary cities to gangs (4/19)
Anna Hohag: Bringing indigenous science to water management (4/19)
Dakota Access Pipeline announces May 14 as first date of service (4/19)
Fort Peck Tribes finally gain access to federal criminal databases (4/19)
Mohegan Tribe wins approval to develop site of former hospital (4/19)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sues to stop expansion of rival casino (4/19)
Cowlitz Tribe enters law enforcement deal as casino debut nears (4/19)
Trump administration faces test as tribes clash over new casino (4/18)
Attorney General vows help for public safety in Indian Country (4/18)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.