Swim Club Racial Bias Settlement Benefits 6 Nonprofits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Philadelphia

    Six organizations serving minority children will split $65,000 from the settlement of a July 2009 racial discrimination complaint filed against a Montgomery County swim club.

    Each of the six nonprofits -- Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Camp Sojourner, Fellowship Farm, Police Athletic League of Philadelphia, Youth United for Change and Urban League of Philadelphia -- will receive $10,833.

    The funds were set aside for groups that benefit urban and minority youth as part of the settlement in Creative Steps Daycare's complaint against The Valley Club of Huntington Valley.

    The U.S. Department of Justice sued the swim club, which operated in Lower Moreland before filing for bankruptcy, after an investigation into the club's decision to cancel Creative Steps' pre-paid membership just one day after the group of mostly minority campers used the pools for the first time.

    Creative Steps paid more than $1,900 for about 60 kids to swim one day per week from June through August at the private swim club. But the money was refunded and they were told not to return without an explanation.

    Several campers recalled overhearing pool members making racial remarks during their single visit to the club.

    "I heard this lady, she was like, 'Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?' She's like, 'I'm scared they might do something to my child," Dymire Baylor, a camper, told NBC10 shortly after the incident occurred.

    The kids' parents became even more upset after a statement released by the club's president, John Duesler, said, "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion... and the atmosphere of the club."

    But members at the club maintained the ousting had nothing to do with race. Instead, they claimed the issue was the club's failure to inform members that camps would also be using the private facility, which caused overcrowding.

    The Justice Department, however, concluded racial hostility prompted the ban.

    The 10-acre suburban complex, which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy several months after the initial complaint was filed, was sold for $1.46 million at auction.

    The $65,000 awarded to the six nonprofits is separate from the monies to be shared among the children who were parties to the complaint. More than $1 million will be distributed to those kids, minus court costs and attorney fees.