Neshaminy Sch. Dist. v. Pa. Human Rel. Comm’n

The Neshaminy School District petitioned for review of a finding that the District had violated Section 5(i)(1) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (Act), 43 P.S. § 955(i)(1), through the District’s use of Native American imagery and the term “Redskins” because such use is harmful to non-Native American students as they create impermissible stereotypes. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission found that the evidence of harassment of, or a loss of educational opportunities to, Native American students was either speculative or insufficient and thus did not support claims of discrimination. However, based on a liberal construction of Section 5(i)(1), the Commission concluded that the harm to non-Native American students constituted unlawful discrimination under the Act. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that in the absence of a finding that the District engaged in unlawful discriminatory practices against Native American students based on those students’ race/ancestry, the Commission exceeded its authority when it found that the harm to non-Native American students constituted an unlawful discriminatory practice under Section 5(i)(1).

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