Prosecutors say Jordan High School in Los Angeles has been contaminated with toxic waste from a nearby metal recycling company.

Profiles July 2023

July 3, 2023

Authors sue over book restriction

The authors of "And Tango Makes Three" are suing a Florida school district and the state’s board of education over restrictions placed on their book about two male penguins who raise a chick together.

The Tallahassee Democrat reports that authors Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson are challenging a Lake County school district's decision that bars students below the fourth grade from having access to the book.

"They barred students from accessing Tango because of its content — namely, the story of a same-sex animal couple with an adopted child — and its expressed viewpoint — namely, that same-sex relationships and families with same-sex parents exist; that they can be happy, healthy, and loving; and that same-sex parents can adopt and raise healthy children," the suit says.

A spokesperson for the Lake County district said that the book has been restricted because of the state’s Parental Rights in Education Law, dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by critics, which prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity up to the third grade.

The lawsuit says that in a search of the 40 books restricted in Lake County schools, 37 include labels referencing the LGBTQ community and the three others contain content about LGBTQ issues and themes.

"If Lake County Schools were not engaging in viewpoint discrimination, then it would not have limited its restriction of books to those exclusively featuring LGBTQ+ characters or discussing LGBTQ+-related content," the suit contends.

Wisconsin district will pay $450,000 to settle pay discrimination suit

The Verona Area (Wis.) School District has agreed to pay $450,000, raise salaries, and furnish other relief to settle a pay discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says the district violated civil rights law by paying nine female special education teachers and one female school psychologist lower wages than more recently hired male employees doing the same work.

All nine special education teachers have experience comparable to or greater than their male colleague, but the district paid them $3,000 to $17,000 less than it paid him.

The EEOC also alleged that the district paid a female school psychologist at least $16,000 less per year than a male school psychologist.

In addition to the $450,000 payment, a four-year consent decree settling the suit requires the district to raise the salaries of the women in the suit, review its pay policy, conduct anti-discrimination training, post a notice to employees at its worksites about the lawsuit, and submit written reports twice a year to the EEOC.

Metal recycling company accused of contaminating Los Angeles high school with toxic waste

A Los Angeles metal recycling company and its owners face 22 felony charges in connection with the dumping of toxic waste at an L.A. high school.

KABC-TV reports that the more than 500 students who attend Jordan High School “attend class and routinely breathe in dust with lead, chromium and other toxic materials,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said.

Twenty-one of the felony counts allege that Atlas Iron & Metal Co., knowingly disposed hazardous waste—Including nickel, zinc and copper—at a site with no permit; one felony count stems from the deposit of hazardous waste.

Prosecutors say that dating back to July 2020, the company violated state environmental laws by not properly getting rid of hazardous waste. Soil samples taken from an area of the campus that is adjacent to the Atlas facility showed excessive concentrations of lead and zinc.

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