New Jersey Town Owes Family $550K in Discrimination Suit

July 23, 2010

A black family who sued a New Jersey shore town for racial discrimination has settled part of the lawsuit for more than $500,000.

The $550,000 settlement against Sea Isle City and its police department was entered Wednesday in federal court in Camden. The portion of the suit against the school board and individual teachers is pending.

Doretha Waters-Rice, her son and granddaughter sued Sea Isle City, its police department and school board in 2004. They alleged both children were subjected to racial slurs by teachers and that the girl was excluded from a Christmas play because of her race. Waters-Rice was the legal guardian of her granddaughter.

The suit also claimed police officers responded to Waters-Rice’s complaints by filing false criminal charges against her and harassing her.

The family left Sea Isle City several years ago and didn’t want to comment on the case, their attorney, Steven Coren, said late Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s been a very emotional and difficult experience, and obviously unpleasant,” Coren said. “They’re pleased they went to court and achieved a meaningful settlement for this part of the case, and they’re hopeful the rest will be resolved soon through trial or settlement.”

An attorney representing the city and police department was traveling Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Peter Spaeth, an attorney representing the school board and individual teachers, declined to discuss the case.

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