Parents of Former Military School Students Seek Discrimination Probe
Karlak, Pat, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Suburban parents of former students at a Wisconsin military academy Thursday petitioned for a federal probe into allegations of anti-Semitism and ethnic and religious discrimination at the campus.
Parents of six former cadets are asking the U.S. justice and defense departments to explore their claims that the atmosphere at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy in Delafield is hostile to Jewish students in particular.
"There was unequal treatment," said Gary S. Meyers of Deerfield, whose son, Aaron, now 15, left St. John's in January 1999, after a dispute about whether he had lied about not doing his homework. "They used any excuse to try to get (Jewish students) out."
Meyers contends his son, currently a student at a Kentucky military academy, was systematically harassed following the family's announcement that they intended to host his bar mitzvah celebration at the school.
Other Jewish students were threatened with dismissal for attempting to celebrate Jewish holidays or follow kosher dietary guidelines, he said.
Meyers said parents want those running the exclusive boarding school, where tuition is about $20,000 a year, to be fired. They also want their tuition refunded.
A federal probe is warranted, parents say, because they are alleging civil rights violations and because the academy received federal assistance in the form of training and equipment.
The boarding academy near Milwaukee traditionally draws a substantial number of its students from the Chicago area, officials said.
School president Ronald Kurth called the allegations "frivolous and groundless."
"There is no anti-Semitism here," Kurth said. "We are a school with 115 years of experience and thousands of graduates who love the school and credit it with making enormous contributions to their lives. Graduates and parents are up in arms about these kinds of allegations."
He said the school is a "lesson in diversity" with students hailing from "12 foreign countries and five world religions."
Kurth said Meyers was driving the action because of his bitterness over his son having been kicked out of the school.
Parents supporting the call for the probe included Randy Miles and Lauren Caruso of Morton Grove. …