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Attorney weighs in on investigation of discrimination complaint over St. Johns County school dress code

We’re looking into what will legally happen for the St. Johns County School District now that the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into a complaint that the school district discriminated against female students through its enforcement of the dress code.
We’re looking into what will legally happen for the St. Johns County School District now that the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into a complaint that the school district discriminated against female students through its enforcement of the dress code.

We’re looking into what will legally happen for the St. Johns County School District now that the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into a complaint that the school district discriminated against female students through its enforcement of the dress code.

This comes down to Title IX, which is the federal law that male and female students essentially have to be treated the same.

The complaint against the school district comes from a parent of three students in the district. She’s alleging the school district is violating federal code.

News4Jax on Tuesday talked with Latoya Williams Shelton, a local attorney not affiliated with this case.

“They’re going to come in. They’re going to take their time. They’re going to investigate, and they’re going to see whether or not there is a basis for this complaint,” Williams Shelton said.

Williams Shelton said the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights many times will investigate allegations and never move forward with a full investigation, but she suspects the fact that this has been formalized means there was sufficient evidence.

“This is all based on money, right? They receive federal money, and they cannot, based on Title IX, discriminate based on sex because of this federal money,” Williams Shelton said. “Depending on how this plays out, they could lose their federal money for education, so I’m sure they don’t want to do that.”

Williams Shelton suspects school district attorneys will work to settle this issue as soon as possible.

“I think the school board is really going to try to attempt to figure out how we can get this resolved early. Prior to the investigation even fully getting started, they can do it. They can attempt to resolve even in the midst of the investigation,” she said.

Williams Shelton said that typically, the Department of Education will be eager for a chance to settle these issues early and will likely put requirements on the school district to make sure it’s in compliance with Title IX and will continue to follow the district to make sure that’s happening.


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Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.