Attorney General Bonta: Mojave Unified School District Achieves Compliance with DOJ’s Four-Year Stipulated Judgment, Commits to Additional Reforms to Protect Students from Disproportionate Discipline and Increase Mental Health Support

Thursday, May 9, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Mojave Unified School District (District), concluding the four-year term of a 2020 stipulated judgment that addressed the District's policies and practices, including with regard to complaints of discrimination and retaliation. The settlement followed findings that the District failed to investigate a report that a principal threatened immigration-related consequences and retaliated against a student and his family for advocating for the student's legal rights. The terms of the 2020 judgment put in place reforms to protect students and ensure the District would improve its investigation and response process for complaints of discrimination and retaliation, revise policies, procedures, and practice, and staff training. The District has achieved substantial compliance with the judgment, and has agreed to implement an additional plan to significantly reduce disproportionalities in discipline for African-American students and students with disabilities, for a minimum of two years and provide DOJ with evidence of implementation two times a year.

“As the People's Attorney, I am committed to protecting students from discrimination and retaliation. The California Department of Justice and the Mojave Unified School District have worked together over the past four years to successfully implement the corrective actions set out in our 2020 stipulated judgment to address concerns regarding discrimination and retaliation,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “With the agreement announced today, Mojave Unified will take critical steps to ensure that no student is subject to discrimination in discipline and to provide additional mental health services for struggling students. My office will continue to work with the District to ensure the plan to reduce disproportionality in discipline is fully implemented, and we will continue to monitor over the next two years.”

 “Reflecting back to the start of the oversight, there were substantial changes needed to structure and maintain an environment that not only provided for, but addressed, the needs of all of our students,”said Dr. Aguirre, Mojave Unified School District Superintendent. “I thank all of our teachers, staff and administrators for their tremendous work and dedication to ensure that our practices and procedures are legally compliant, non-discriminatory and equitable. I am proud of their commitment to reviewing practices and procedures and for their reflection on what is fair and equitable in addressing and responding to our students’ needs. We could not have done so without the continuing support of our Governing Board members.”

In 2019, a DOJ investigation found that the District failed to properly investigate the family and student’s complaint of discrimination and retaliation. The investigation also found that the district violated state law with respect to search and seizure practices, special education identification, independent study and county community school placements, maintaining student record confidentiality, and the process for investigating and resolving complaints of discrimination and retaliation. DOJ and the District entered into a stipulated judgment that required significant reforms and a four-year monitoring period. 

At the conclusion of the judgment, the District achieved substantial compliance with all terms of the judgment by: 

  • Improving procedures for handling student complaints, including ensuring that staff understand their obligations under the law to adequately respond to and track reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Ensuring alternative education programs meet legal requirements, following findings that the District provided only 10-15 minutes of support per week to below-grade-level students in independent study and that students placed in supervised suspension did not have a credentialed teacher for at least half a school year.
  • Training staff in records management, as part of an effort to prevent the loss or removal of confidential student records.
  • Addressing potentially inappropriate transfers to county community day schools, which, if not for expulsion, generally may only occur with the voluntary and informed consent of the student and family.
  • Increasing the accessibility of special education evaluations, building on the District’s affirmative move to eliminate a screening process in order to help parents or guardians have a meaningful opportunity to engage in decisions about whether to evaluate their child for mental health-related disabilities.
  • Reforming practices on searches and seizures, making sure there is reasonable suspicion, as legally required, before class-wide or grade-level-wide searches are conducted.
  • Notifying families of the availability of translation and interpretation services, recognizing that meaningful access to education cannot be dependent on a student’s ability to translate between staff and a parent or guardian.
  • Conducting a quarterly community advisory survey, supporting efforts to gage the efficacy of the independent study program and alternative education arrangements.
  • Remedying grievances suffered by the individual harmed student, including by removing certain absences in the student’s record and providing 125 hours of free compensatory education and mental health services. 

The District has further committed to implementing a two-year suspension disproportionality reduction plan, and providing DOJ with evidence of implementation twice a year. The plan includes: 

  • Continued comprehensive implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), including re-entry protocol for students returning from out-of-school removals.
  • Working with a consultant to provide guidance and support in the District’s PBIS implementation.
  • Additional mental health and behavioral support staff at school sites.
  • Training and implementation of restorative justice.
  • Training for all staff and consistent teacher supports in PBIS, restorative justice, nondiscrimination, bias, conflict resolution and de-escalation, trauma, and social emotional learning curriculum.
  • Tracking and monthly review of disaggregated PBIS and discipline data to identify trends and address root causes of discipline and disproportionality in discipline and implement necessary remedies. 

A copy of the agreement reached with the district is available here. A copy of the stipulated judgement is available here


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