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Civil rights investigation launched after the removal of courtesy busing in Hillsborough Co.

Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 31, 2017

The Office for Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into the removal of courtesy busing by Hillsborough County Schools.

In a letter addressed to Superintendent Jeff Eakins, it outlines the allegations of discriminatory against disabled and minority children. 

The complaint was filed by a Valrico mother, Josephine Amato, who alleges Newsome High School does not have adequate access for students with mobility impairments, like her daughter. 

Amato also alleges in the complaint that the elimination of courtesy busing for students within two miles of the district for all middle and high school students is discriminatory against students of racial and ethnic minority.

She tells ABC Action News her family is from Puerto Rico, and she tells us the district did not notify the change to bus transportation to parents in Spanish. 

An Education Department spokesman confirmed the investigation through a statement on Tuesday.

OCR currently has an investigation open at the Hillsborough County, Fla., School District for possible disability discrimination (accessibility) and possible discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  As you may know, Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in all programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The investigation was opened on Oct. 20. However, because this is an open investigation, OCR cannot provide additional information.

A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County School District tells us they received the complaint, but would not comment more.

They have repeatedly in the past that the decision to remove courtesy busing was part of budget restraints for the district. 

The letter addressed to Superintendent Eakins asks for a response with requested documents within 15 days of receiving the letter. According to the document, the letter was dated October 20.