Black Family Accuses Prestigious D.C. School Of Actively Tampering With Grades And College Application

Dayo Adetu and her parents allege that Sidwell Friends School ruined her chances to go to college directly after high school.

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| June 14 2019,

9:45 pm

A Black family is accusing a prestigious Washington, D.C. school of discrimination and wants the Supreme Court to review their case.

Starting in 2000, Dayo Adetu attended Sidwell Friends School, a legacy institution that Sasha and Malia Obama attended. It is widely known as a feeder school of Ivy League institutions.

Adetu's relationship with the school began to go awry in 2011. Adetu's older sister, Lola, had also attended the school, but had issues that led to a discrimination complaint filed with the D.C. Office of Human Rights.

Since the complaint was filed, Adetu's parents, Titilayo and Nike, have had a contentious relationship with the school that has manifested in petty, retaliatory actions by teachers and administrators at the school.

Teachers were accused of manipulating Adetu's grades, being more strict on her than her peers and allegedly took measures to keep her out of certain advanced classes. When her parents got wind of this, they immediately went to Sidwell Headmaster Thomas Farquhar to resolve the matter.

In their lawsuit, Adetu said Farquhar became livid during a meeting in 2012. According to the lawsuit, Farquhar openly told the family that “all of the teachers want the Adetus gone, gone, gone from the School,” and that “non-retaliation [against Dayo] is now off the table.”

This alarming conduct forced the Adetus to handle the matter legally, and OHR eventually mediated an agreement between the family and the school that settled things. In July 2013, Sidwell agreed to pay Adetu's family $50,000, recalibrate her grades after arbitrarily lowering her test scores and promise to stop discriminating against her as she approached her college applications.

Unfortunately, the school has allegedly doubled down on its retaliatory conduct against Adetu.

"This direct evidence of retaliatory animus is not disputed by Sidwell. The Headmaster’s animus as reflected was held not only by Sidwell’s key decision maker, but by 'all' the teachers at Sidwell. A retaliatory animus towards Dayo prevailed about and infected all of her teachers," they wrote in the petition to The Supreme Court.

School administrators have allegedly gone as far as to intentionally ruin Adetu's chances of getting into a college at all. The school is accused of giving her bad recommendations, failing to send her transcripts or sending transcripts that had not been fixed according to the first agreement.

"The failure to timely provide the recomputations was retaliatory because Dayo suffered actual and prospective harm as she was precluded from taking any action to correct her Second Semester Calculus and Math II grades before these false grades were sent to colleges and universities in 2013, and that harm is ongoing as those grades remain inaccurate," they wrote in the lawsuit.

The school either failed to send the correct transcript or any transcript at all to Adetu's top choices for college and admitted in subsequent lawsuits that college counselors were explicitly trying to get her to go to Spelman College.

They made sure her application to Spelman was perfect and changed their critical recommendations to positive ones for only that application.   

"[Sidwell] assert that Dayo’s academic achievement rating respecting her Spelman application was 'excellent'; therefore, her academic achievement rating should have been 'excellent' with respect to the non-HBCUS to which she applied," their lawyer Richard Baker said.

Sidwell succeeded in allegedly hampering Adetu's chances at attending a top college. By the end of her senior year, she "was the only student in her graduating class of 126 students who did not receive unconditional acceptance from any educational institution to which she applied."

One year later, she applied again and got into the University of Pennsylvania.

Despite the mountain of evidence on their side, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in January held up a decision by a lower court. The decision backs up Sidwell's claim that none of their actions breached the original agreement they signed with Adetu. 

Sidwell claimed any effort to prove their teachers and administrators discriminated against Adetu was "speculation." Furthermore, the school claims most of the family's claims were "generalized gripes."

They found that no "tangible harm" was done to Adetu despite admissions from her math teacher and college counselor that they had openly done things to ruin her college applications.

Experts have said it is highly unlikely for the Supreme Court to take up the case. If correct, the lower court decision will probably stand. However, that isn't stopping the Adetus from trying to prove their point.

"They are not merely challenging the academic judgment of Sidwell, and that of their agents. Dayo’s academic future was compromised, at best, because of [Sidwell's] retaliatory actions, of which Dayo has direct evidence," they say in the lawsuit

"Sidwell’s actions should not enjoy any degree of deference"