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BOONE, N.C. – The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) will join members of the Watauga County community, including parents and students, on Thursday, February 27, to speak out against censorship and urge local officials to vote against calls to ban Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits” and other literature from the county high school curriculum.

The Watauga County Board of Education will consider a final appeal seeking to remove Allende’s critically acclaimed novel, which appears on statewide reading lists, from the county school curriculum later that evening. Two board-sanctioned committees have previously voted unanimously to keep the book in the curriculum.

“The freedom to read is essential to a healthy democracy,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NC Legal Foundation. “We’re proud to join students and parents from Watauga County in urging their local officials to do the right thing and not go down the slippery slope of banning books that promote critical thinking and classroom dialogue. We hope Watauga officials will join their peers in Randolph and Brunswick counties who earlier this school year recognized the danger of banning books and in the end voted in favor of the freedom to read.”  

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CANTON, N.C. – The administration of a public high school in western North Carolina has agreed to allow a group of students to form a club for nonreligious students after the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) and the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent officials a letter explaining how denial of the club would violate federal law.

“Students of all beliefs, religious and nonreligious, deserve an equal opportunity to meet in a safe and welcoming space where they can socialize and discuss their views with peers,” said ACLU-NCLF Legal Director Chris Brook, who co-signed the February 11 letter. “We’re very pleased that this situation is now resolved.”

Students at Pisgah High School in Canton have been trying since October 2013 to form a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance, which seeks to create welcoming communities for nonreligious students, but were told by officials that the club would not “fit in” and could not find a faculty sponsor. The school has about 30 extracurricular clubs, including at least two religious clubs: the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Key Club.

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This article originally appeared on NC Policy Watch.

By Raul Pinto, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina

How should the government treat young immigrants who were brought into the United States through no fault of their own by their undocumented parents? That question is one of the most urgent in our national immigration debate. Most of these young immigrants have lived in the United States almost all of their lives; it is where they call home. In North Carolina and states across the country, they attend school, go to work, and pay taxes.

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RALEIGH, N.C. A complaint filed Wednesday, January 22 by Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Advocates for Children’s Services (ACS) and a coalition of local, state and national advocacy organizations, including the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, alleges a pattern of discrimination and unlawful criminalization caused by school policing policies and practices in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). 

The complaint was filed against the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, eight police departments in Wake County and the WCPSS, alleging violations under the U.S. Constitution, Titles IV and VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All eight students named in the Complaint are African-American and seven are students with disabilities (SWD). The complaint is one of the most comprehensive complaints ever filed about school policing and gets to the heart of a civil rights crisis impacting schools and communities across the country. It is being filed as a last resort after years of grievances, internal affairs complaints, meetings and other ignored pleas and unsuccessful advocacy measures. 

As the number of law enforcement officers patrolling WCPSS schools on a full-time basis – called school resource officers or SROs – has increased, so too has the percentage of delinquency complaints in Wake County that are school-based. During 2012-13, 42 percent of all delinquency complaints were school-based.

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