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12/02/2019

PHRC Statement on Commonwealth V. Neshaminy School District

​HARRISBURG, PA 12/2/19:  The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission was created as one agency with three branches, much like our Government.  Almost a year ago Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter filed a "Commission Initiated Complaint" on behalf of the Commission, based on a complaint that was filed then withdrawn by a student at Neshaminy High School.  Mr. Lassiter said, "I feel strongly that "Redskins" is a racially demeaning term and should not be used anywhere, let alone in a school".

When a commission-initiated complaint is filed at PHRC there is a true separation of power.  The Executive Director brings the complaint, the staff goes through the normal process of attempting to settle, investigating, finding probable cause/no probable cause and finally proceeding to a public hearing.  The Permanent Hearing Officer (PHO) is the Judge and the Commissioners are the jury.  To avoid collusion, there is separation and the PHO may not discuss the case nor their decision with any of the lawyers, the Executive Director, or the Commissioners until it is presented to the Commissioners for review, revision, and response. The recommendation of the PHO is presented and voted on by the Commissioners during a public meeting. 

During the PHRC regular monthly meeting (November 25, 2019) the Commissioners voted to accept the recommendations of PHO in a 7-1 vote.  While liability was found and orders were made, the school can continue to use the word "Redskins" with certain expressed stipulations. 

"PHRC will enforce the Order because it is our duty", Mr. Lassiter said.  He continued, "however, I know the use of that word is as wrong and harmful as the use of the "N-word.  I'm committed to take our PHRC team to Neshaminy and work to heal the community".   PHRC has committed to residence that they will hold a Social Justice Lecture Series, Townhall, and Talk Back sessions in Bucks County in the coming months.

Mr. Lassiter ended by saying, "Furthermore, I am aware of the racial hatred and intimidation that has been directed towards Donna Boyle and her colleagues would advise those who engage in this behavior to stop immediately as the PHRC will not allow these behaviors to go unchecked"

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