The parent of a former student has filed a discrimination suit against a Washington, D.C., Catholic school, alleging that his son was forced to withdraw because of his race.
The suit, filed last week at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, arises out of a drinking-related incident that took place at St. John’s College High School, in Washington’s Chevy Chase neighborhood, in March.
According to the complaint, 16-year-old Merrit Moore, who is black, was accused by St. John's officials of bringing alcohol onto the school’s campus and sharing it with a friend, a white female. The complaint alleges that school administrators told Moore’s mother that if she did not withdraw her son, he would be expelled. Afraid they would follow through, she agreed to transfer him out of the school.
But according to the complaint, the girl Moore was caught drinking with only received a three-day suspension.
After learning about the girl’s suspension, Merrit Moore’s father, Lloyd Moore, a 58-year-old energy consultant in Miami, Fla., attempted to contact the school to find out why his son had received a harsher punishment. According to the complaint, the school sidestepped the issue, responding with a letter saying that because Merrit had willingly withdrawn, his punishment was not appealable.
Merrit Moore “was dismissed solely on the basis of race,” the complaint alleges.
In an interview, Lloyd Moore said that before the drinking incident, his son had never been in more than minor trouble at St. John's, occasionally receiving detention for missing class.
Along with the discrimination claims, the suit also accuses St. John’s of breach of contract for allowing Merrit’s mother to withdraw him. The suit says that Lloyd Moore signed the initial enrollment papers, and paid for his son’s tuition. Lloyd Moore and Merrit’s mother are not married.
Lloyd Moore, who is represented by Frederick Douglas and Curtis Boykin of Washington’s Douglas & Boykin, said that while St. John’s is generally a well-integrated school, he was “not surprised” at his son’s alleged treatment.
“Even in integrated situations, punishments towards African American males are just more severe,” he said. “They’ve documented this.”
St. John’s did not return a call for comment. No lawyers have entered an appearance for the school.