(The Center Square) – Parents Defending Education filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Burnsville High School in Minnesota based on race and national origin in programs that receive federal financial assistance.

Burnsville High School offers programming to affinity groups only open to some students.

PDE filed the complaint alleging discrimination based on race and national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint says admittance to the Indigenous Student Council is only open to “Indigenous” students.

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The club is listed on the school’s website alongside other clubs like the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Association and the Gender Sexuality Alliance. Unlike the other six affinity groups, the Indigenous Student Council is the only group explicitly stating it is not open to the entire student body.

The complaint says discrimination based on race should be illegal.

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PDE Vice-President Caroline Moore told The Center Square in an email:

“Extracurricular clubs should be open to all students to explore more about areas of interest, but that certainly isn’t what’s transpired at Burnsville High School," Moore said. "Instead, they have created a secondary student council that only admits indigenous students. Not only is this unconstitutional, but it hinders students of all races by reinforcing ‘separate but equal’ is once again okay. It is appalling.”

The district hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

PDE filed the complaint as an interested third-party organization with members who are parents of school children throughout the country.

The complaint seeks an investigation into the complaint and other remedies.

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