Legal Action in Romanian School Segregation Case

On June 4, 2004, three Romani parents, represented by the ERRC and the Romanian non-governmental organisations Romani CRISS and Fundatia Umanitara Hochin, filed a complaint with the National Council for Combating Discrimination (NCCD) against the Ion Creanga primary school in the northeast-ern Romanian town of Târgu Frumos. The complaint was filed following visits to the school by the ERRC and Fundatia Umanitara Hochin, which revealed the existence of a segregated class for Romani pupils.

Class 5E is comprised of thirty-three children, only two of whom are non-Roma. On February 6, 2004, Ms Niculina Mihei, deputy principal of the school, informed the ERRC that the class had been formed at Târgu Frumos School No. 3 in the nearby Romani neighbourhood where the students attended class until grade 4. Ms Mihei stated that the purpose of the class was to maintain the group formed at School No. 3. However, in December 2003, Ms Dobrita Vladeanu informed ERRC consultant Ms Margareta Hochin of the Fundatia Umanitara Hochin that the class existed because it is hard for Romani children to adjust to classes with Romanian children. The Romani pupils of Class 5E were separated from their Romanian counterparts without any form of testing on which to base this assessment. A number of the parents with whom the ERRC spoke expressed dissatisfaction with the level of education their children were receiving and with the discriminatory manner in which teachers treated their children. In fact, many had reportedly requested, unsuccessfully, to transfer their children out of the class. Ms Hochin stated that during her visits to the class, teachers called the Romani children "filthy Gypsies" and "handicapped". The physical conditions of the class do not provide an adequate learning environment and the children are not afforded access to extra-curricular activities. Indeed, a number of children in the class are illiterate. In February 2004, Ms Vladeanu informed Ms Hochin that she planned to discuss the possibility of starting th to 8th grade classes at School No. 3 because she did "not want Romani children to come to her school anymore."

The ERRC also documented the existence of segregated classes at School No.31 in the Palas Romani neighbourhood of the eastern Romanian city of Constanta, on the coast of the Black Sea. At the school, Romani and non-Romani students attend classes composed almost entirely of students of their own ethnicity. During its visit, the ERRC documented the ethnic composition of several classes. Three Romani and fifteen non-Romani pupils attended Class II A, while sixteen Romani and two Romanian students attended Class II B. The situation was similar in the fourth class. One of the teachers at the school informed the ERRC that the school's principal ordered the sepa-ration of students to create a learn-ing environment "in which Romanian students would not be disturbed by Romani pupils." (ERRC)

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