Craig and Kelly Robinson, former first lady Michelle Obama’s brother and sister-in-law, have sued their children’s school for alleged racial bias, CNN reported Thursday, after their two children were disenrolled from the school.
What are the details?
The Robinsons in their suit state that the prestigious University School of Milwaukee notified the couple that their children — ages 9 and 11 — would not be permitted back at the school for the 2021-2022 school year.
A portion of the letter sent at the end of last school year and obtained by CNN said, “We cannot continue a relationship with your family.”
The Robinsons said that the school disenrolled their children because the parents “brought up some issues that were sensitive to the administration.”
Craig told the outlet that he and his wife began providing feedback to the school on some of its teaching practices, which he said were “troubling.”
“The first thing we noticed was a repeated use of racial and ethnic stereotypes in actual classroom assignments,” Robinson said of the school’s virtual learning sessions that took place during the previous school year.
The couple added that one such infraction was using the word “plantation” during a virtual learning lesson. The pair added that they were also disappointed about “the way that [the school] dealt with” the family’s concerns “and the fact that they didn’t want to confront the actual issue.”
Instead of dealing with the issue, Kelly told CNN, the school “retaliated against us and our children.”
The couple, according to the complaint, also “raised concerns about USM’s treatment of its students of color and submitted bias incident reports on behalf of underrepresented students.”
The family’s attorney filed the civil suit against the school on Monday, alleging that it “acted impermissibly to silence and to retaliate against those adversely affected by, and raising concerns about, the School’s unfair treatment of students of color and underrepresented students.”
On Tuesday, the couple appeared on “Good Morning America,” where Greg said that he wants to hold the school accountable “not just to our two children who they retaliated against,” but a “whole community of people who are out there that we wouldn’t feel right if this happened moving forward.”
“The third reason is, this needs to stop and change and this will help all students at the University School of Milwaukee,” he added.
The suit requests a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages.
Michelle Obama’s brother, wife speak out on suit against children’s former school | GMA
What has the school said?
The school in a statement denied all allegations and said that the dismissal had everything to do with how the couple “dealt with teachers and administrators.”
USM’s letter to the Robinsons, dated June 2021 and sent by head of school Steven Hancock, said the decision came down to how the couple dealt with teachers and administrators.
“You neither demonstrated respect for their expertise and professionalism nor consistently related with them in a respectful, trustworthy, fair, or kind manner,” a portion of the disenrollment letter to the Robinsons read. “You repeatedly engaged in disrespectful and demanding communications with and about our teachers and administrators.”
The school on Tuesday released a statement saying that it was currently unable to comment on the litigation, but added, “We can tell you that USM’s enrollment decisions had nothing to do with complaints of inequity or discrimination and we intend to vigorously defend the school against any claim to the contrary.”
“We cannot and will not tolerate persistently disrespectful, bullying, or harassing behavior directed at our devoted and hardworking teachers and administrators,” the statement added.
The couple denied all allegations of bullying.