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Critics of SRO program file civil rights complaint

CHAMPAIGN -- Some people aren't happy with the decision by Unit 4 to renew its contract with the police department for school resource officers.
CHAMPAIGN -- Some people aren't happy with the decision by Unit 4 to renew its contract with the police department for school resource officers. They're doing something about it.

The school board will spend more than a quarter million dollars on police officers next school year. But, critics say the program targets African-American students and they filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

Activists say the SRO program discriminates against African-American students and violates Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They say, since the officers started policing the schools, 417 students were arrested; 357 were African-American, which is about 85%. For activists, those numbers indicate racial profiling.

Terry Townsend is leading the charge and says this cannot continue. The DOE will now conduct its own investigation. If the findings are true, the district could lose some of its federally-funded dollars.

In the meantime, members of the community are thinking about filing a federal lawsuit against the school board and individual school board members. Parents say, one of the biggest problems is the program has no checks and balances. Also, kids aren't made aware of their rights. The district was aware of the complaint, but had no comment.
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