The brother of former first lady Michelle Obama and his wife are suing a private Milwaukee school, alleging it refused to allow their two sons to re-enroll after they voiced concerns that racism and inappropriate conduct at the school had not been satisfactorily addressed. In a civil lawsuit filed Monday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Craig and Kelly Robinson accuse University School of Milwaukee of terminating their 9- and 11-year-old sons' re-enrollment contracts for the 2021-2022 school year after the couple complained that teachers treated students of color and socioeconomically underrepresented students unfairly.
The boys had attended the pre-kindergarten through grade 12 school, which enrolls about 1,100 students, for about five years, the Robinsons said Tuesday in an interview with the AP. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a trial by jury; USM said in a statement that the enrollment decision had nothing to do with their complaints. Craig Robinson said the boys had been straight-A students at the school and never got in trouble, but that when the boys were learning virtually at home because of the pandemic, they became aware that racial and ethnic stereotypes appeared in assignments.
"We were partnering with the school and we shared our concerns, how the school could be better with curriculum," Kelly Robinson said. In a termination letter to the Robinsons, USM Head of School Steve Hancock told the couple they had "repeatedly engaged in disrespectful and demanding communications with and about our teachers and administrators." In an April email, Hancock wrote that "despite our continued efforts and requests, you continue to directly engage with USM’s fifth grade teachers and administrators in a manner that is not consistent with the school’s Common Trust and Core Values—including via numerous emails, texts, and conversations that are disrespectful and deflating."
It "has only become more evident that there has been a complete breakdown in your family's trust of and respect for USM," Hancock wrote. Hancock released a statement Tuesday afternoon but declined to take calls on the lawsuit. It reads in part, "We cannot and will not tolerate persistently disrespectful, bullying, or harassing behavior directed at our devoted and hardworking teachers and administrators."
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