Former first lady Michelle Obama’s brother and sister-in-law have sued their sons’ former private school, alleging the two were kicked out over their parents’ complaints of racial bias.
Craig and Kelly Robinson’s sons were enrolled at the University School of Milwaukee (USM), which charges $30,000 per year for tuition, from 2016 until last year. It was then that school officials expelled them over claims of the parents “violating the School’s Common Trust” and not fulfilling their responsibilities. In two letters, the administration pointed at “disrespectful” behavior by the parents and urged that they find other schools for their sons.
In a statement, the school said it will not tolerate what it called “persistently disrespectful, bullying, or harassing behavior” towards teachers and administrators. The administration denies that enrollment decisions were affected by “complaints of inequity or discrimination” and says it will vigorously defend itself against any claim otherwise.
It also claimed to “embrace diversity in all of its forms.”
The 25-page lawsuit alleges a pattern over many years of being insensitive and unfair to “students of color, persons with disabilities, indigenous Americans, and other underrepresented students.” Craig Robinson told a local TV station that it was when their sons began attending school virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic that he and their mother saw “a window into the classroom”
He alleges continual use of racial and ethnic stereotypes in assignments, a lack of regard for students not physically in the classroom, and “insensitivity to socioeconomic status.” Kelly Robinson filed a bias incident report through the school’s internal system over “harmful” assignments in January 2021 and then another two months later. The suit says school officials acknowledged receiving the reports but took no action.
The lawsuit further alleges an Underground Railroad project that was no longer assigned when the Robinson’s boys attended the school was insensitive. The filing calls USM’s actions “draconian” for removing “two minor children of color” from their school.
An online “Call to Action” urging a reversal of the school’s “culture of bias and insensitivity” has over 200 signatures of alumni, parents and students. It asserts that the Robinsons advocated for making USM more diverse, tolerant, inclusive, and welcoming but instead were met with retaliation.