Settlement in Swim Club Discrimination Case

The $1.1 million settlement will be split among 73 African-Americans who were denied swimming privileges at a Huntingdon Valley club

The Justice Department has announced a settlement agreement in a racial discrimination case dating back to June 2009.

During that summer, Creative Steps Day Camp, of Northeast Philadelphia, paid the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., for pool access for summer campers. After their first day of swimming, the camp's money was refunded, and campers were told not to return.

Several campers claimed they heard pool members making racial comments while they were at the club.

The settlement agreement for $1.1 million is to be split among the 73 African-Americans involved in the case.

At the time, Valley Swim Club officials said race had nothing to do with it and that there were too many children for the lifeguards on duty.

The Justice Department spent months investigating along with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and found it was racial hostility that prompted club members to ban the African-American children from the pool.

The Valley Swim Club filed for bankruptcy in November 2009. It was sold in June 2010 for $1.46 million.

According to the settlement, $65,000 will be set aside from the proceeds of the property sale to create a diversity leadership council between members of Creative Steps Day Camp and Former Valley Club Members. The council will work together to provide interactive activities between the groups that include swimming, field trips and camps.

The settlement agreement is awaiting approval from the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It's already been approved by a District Court judge.

“This settlement provides significant opportunity to children who were denied an opportunity based on their skin color,” said JoAnn Edwards, executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in a release issued Thursday. “Our hope is that this case serves as prevention for years to come and a reminder that discrimination is illegal, and has no place in Pennsylvania.”

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