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U.S. Justice Dept: Settlement Reached In Valley Swim Club Discrimination Case

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) – The United States Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had reached a settlement agreement with the Valley Swim Club.

The swim club, which was formerly located in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. was accused of discriminating against a group of African-American children because of their race back in June 2009.

At that time, Creative Steps Inc., a Northeast Philadelphia children’s day camp, had paid the club a fee that allowed the organization’s campers access to the pool for the summer.

On the first day the children swam at the club, they reported hearing racial slurs, and on July 3, 2009, the club refunded the day camp’s membership fee and prohibited the children from returning to the pool. Shortly thereafter, a group of families filed suit against the swim club on discrimination claims.

Just months later, Valley Swim Club filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. The club property was sold in June 2010 for $1,460,000.

Now, the Justice Department has revealed that once the administration of the estate and bankruptcy case is closed and after paying costs and fees, the remaining assets from the swim club will be split between the 73 discrimination claimants—a number that could be as much as $1.1 million, or just over $15,000 per person.

“This settlement provides significant opportunity to children who were denied an opportunity based on their skin color,” said JoAnn Edwards, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. “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.”

Additionally, the settlement provides that $65,000 will be set aside from the proceeds of the sale of the Valley Club’s property for the creation of a leadership council that comprises former Valley Club members, Creative Steps counselors, campers and their families. The children and families affected by the Valley Club incident will take leadership roles in planning swimming, educational and recreational opportunities for the community.

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