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Portland Lawyers Allege Oregon Sen. Rob Wagner and Lake Oswego School Officials Failed to Investigate a Student’s Claims of Racial Discrimination

“The use of buzzwords in Lake Oswego like ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’ do little to soothe the pain and discomfort experienced by our client,” said lead trial attorney Michael Fuller.

Two Portland lawyers say they intend to file a civil lawsuit against Oregon state Sen. Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), former chair of the Lake Oswego School Board and current Senate Majority Leader, alleging school officials failed to investigate a Lake Oswego student's claims of racial discrimination.

Attorneys for the plaintiff, who is unnamed because of their status as a minor, filed documents in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Nov. 24 initiating the process for a civil complaint against the Lake Oswego School District.

Upon switching to the district, the student was regularly bullied for their hair and subjected to racist slurs, including the n-word, according to a press release issued Nov. 24. The student is represented by Portland attorneys Michael Fuller and Kim Sordyl.

"Lake Oswego schools are hotbeds of racism," Sordyl said in a press release. "White decision-makers engage in performative allyship while covering up a deeply racist culture."

The attorneys say the student's parents sought a resolution for years, and in May 2020, the school board, under the leadership of Wagner, approved the student's request to "double up" on distance learning to graduate a year early.

But the school board did not initiate an investigation into the student's claims or provide the student additional support, the attorneys say.

"The officials failed to follow the laws already in place regarding racism in schools, hazing in schools [and] retaliation," the attorneys wrote in a statement Tuesday.

"My understanding is the district is taking the allegation seriously, and I would refer all other questions about the lawsuit to the district," Wagner told WW. "I couldn't be more proud of having had the opportunity to serve my community of Lake Oswego. I don't know the individual, and I don't know the context behind the suit."