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Glendale Unified, police settle suit over racial profiling

 Glendale Unified students take part in the ACLU lawsuit announcement in 2011. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News

The ACLU of Southern California announced Wednesday that it had reached settlements with the city of Glendale and the Glendale Unified School District on behalf of eight Latino students who alleged that officials engaged in racial profiling and illegal searches during a 2010 incident at Hoover High School.

On Sept. 24, 2010, more than 50 Latino students were allegedly detained by Glendale and Los Angeles police officers who questioned them about possible gang affiliations. The students were also allegedly forced to pose for mock police mug shots.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in 2011, the ACLU alleged that officials targeted Latino students because of their race and that there was no evidence students were violating laws at the time they were questioned.

According to the settlement agreements, the city agreed to pay $50,000 to the ACLU of Southern California Client Trust Fund, and Glendale Unified and its defendants agreed to pay $50,000 to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Glendale News-Press reported.

Claims against the Los Angeles County Probation Department and the Los Angeles Police Department are still pending "for their involvement in planning and executing the roundup," according to the ACLU.

"Unlike most cities, police departments or school districts, Glendale did not try to sweep this under the rug," said Bert Voorhees, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs with the ACLU.

David Sapp — an attorney for the ACLU of Southern California — also commended the school district and city of Glendale for "using this incident as an opportunity to review their current practices and adopt new policies that will ensure that students' rights are protected on campus."

Under the agreement, Glendale Unified and the city's Police Department revised their policies regarding future police activities on school grounds.

The school board in November approved district-wide policy changes that require school officials to notify the parents of students who are questioned on campus by police.

Glendale police, meanwhile, has updated training for officers, department spokesman Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

"The no racial profiling policy has always been in effect," Lorenz said in an email. "We have taken steps so as to not have these types of 'allegations' occur in the future."

Glendale Unified and police officials also agreed to verify that information collected during the interrogations has been destroyed.

For her part, Ashley Flores — who was 16 years old and an A student when she was rounded up with other students for the detainment — said in a statement Wednesday that she was "happy that what happened to us won't happen to anyone else."

"I've never been in trouble and it was confusing, terrifying and humiliating," she added.

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-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Photo: Glendale Unified students take part in the ACLU lawsuit announcement in 2011. Credit: Raul Roa / Times Community News

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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