Michelle Obama’s brother, Craig Robinson, and his wife Kelly have taken legal action against their children’s private school in Milwaukee. The couple alleges that the school expelled their child after they raised concerns about the way students of color were being treated there.
Craig and Kelly Robinson filed a complaint against the University School of Milwaukee, where their son began attending in 2016. They wrote in a statement that as parents of biracial children, they chose that school because of their commitment to inclusivity and diversity. They have children ages nine and eleven who attended the school.
The lawsuit against the school alleges that in April of 2021, their oldest son who was in 5th grade was “suddenly” terminated from the school. Then, two months later, their younger son who was in the 3rd grade had his enrollment revoked “without prior notice or just cause,” according to the complaint.
The Robinsons believe that the school took this action against their two sons because the couple raised concerns about the school’s treatment of the students of color who attended. They had submitted biased incident reports on behalf of underrepresented children.
The school wrote a termination letter to the Robinsons in June, and they were told that they had violated the School’s Common Trust. They were also told that they had not fulfilled their commitment as “partners with USM.”
The school also wrote a public letter saying they could not comment on the specifics of the legal case, but the school’s decision did not have anything to do with the complaints they received of “inequity or discrimination.” USM said that they will “vigorously defend” themselves against any claims that are contrary to that.
Craig appeared this week on Good Morning America. He discussed his reasoning for suing the school.
“We want to hold University School of Milwaukee accountable not just to our two children who they retaliated against, but more importantly, there’s a whole community of people who are out there that we wouldn’t feel right if this happened moving forward.”
He also shared a third reason for the lawsuit, stating that the school’s actions needed to stop and be changed so that all the students of USM would be helped.
Greg and Kelly Robinson told Good Morning America that they started to see issues in the assignments their children received in the virtual classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like a lot of other parents, they became privy to what was actually happening in the classroom. They heard repeated racial and ethnic stereotypes in their son’s assignments.
Greg used as an example the use of the word “plantation” and things like that. He also talked about ongoing insensitivity to “socioeconomic status,” and said there was a general “disregard” for students who were not physically in the classroom.
The couple said that they felt “compelled” to make their concerns known, but it was not long before they were informed that their children were no longer welcome at USM. The Robinsons claim that their experience was just another example of a broader pattern of unfair treatment and insensitivity toward families of color.
The lawsuit is asking for a jury trial along with monetary damages, but the Robinsons claim that this has nothing to do with financial gain. They said that any money received would be put “towards initiatives designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools.”
Their concern is that the school face accountability and fairness, and their lawyer, Kimberley Cy. Motley, has said there are hundreds of people supporting them.
The head of the school, Steve Hancock, said in a public statement that USM “cannot and will not tolerate persistently disrespectful, bullying, or harassing behavior directed at our devoted and hardworking teachers and administrators.”
Hancock went further, stating that when the conduct of parents threatens the educational environment, they have no choice but to take action.
As this story continues, we will see if this school can stand up to the massive power that this family holds politically due to their relationship with the Obamas.