Feds Probe Alleged Discrimination at Swim Club

Civil Rights Division may be called in

By Asha Beh
|  Saturday, Jul 18, 2009  |  Updated 3:04 PM EDT
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Campers Reject Swim Club's Offer

NBC Philadelphia

Signs of defiance were held up outside the club by protesters of all ages shortly after the incident.

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Campers Reject Swim Club's Offer

Campers from Creative Steps say "No Thanks" to welcome back

Campers Reject Swim Club's Offer

Campers from Creative Steps say "No Thanks" to welcome back
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Philadelphia -- The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the case of a suburban Philadelphia swim club that has been accused of racial discrimination, spokesman Alejandro Miyar said Friday.

And if the Feds smell something rotten, the case could go to the department's Civil Rights Division, which will officially investigate the matter. 

The Valley Club has said race had nothing to do with the club's decision to ask a Philadelphia day camp not to bring mostly black and Hispanic children from Creative Steps camp back to the Huntingdon Valley club to swim. John Duesler, president of the board of directors, said there were too many children on the camp's June 29 visit and many couldn't swim.

But Creative Steps director Alethea Wright said some children reported hearing racial comments during the outing, and the camp's $1,950 was refunded a few days later.

Sonya Toler, executive director of Gov. Rendell's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, sought the review, saying in a letter to Assistant Attorney General Loretta King that the commission was "deeply troubled and concerned."

"In this day and time, black and Latino children should never be turned away from a service, especially one they paid for, because of the color of their skin," Toler said. "You'd like to think that everyone who stood on the line for civil rights had fought this fight already and won it."

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., earlier called the allegations "extremely disturbing" and asked the department to look into the matter.

Duesler did not respond to phone calls and e-mails Friday.

Carolyn Nichols, an attorney for Creative Steps, called the action appropriate.

"It's very significant that you have entities of this level undertaking this kind of investigation," she said.
 

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