Michelle Obama's Brother, Sister-In-Law Sue Milwaukee School For Racial Bias

The couple alleges that the private school retaliated against their complaints by dismissing their children.

Michelle Obama’s brother and sister-in-law, Craig Robinson and Kelly Robinson, sued a Wisconsin private school Monday (April 18) that dismissed their two sons. The Robinsons allege that the University School of Milwaukee removed their children as retaliation for their complaints about racial and socio-economic bias at the elite pre-K-12 school.

"We're moving forward with this for a couple of reasons. We want to hold University School of Milwaukee accountable not just to our two children who they retaliated against, but more importantly, there's a whole community of people who are out there that we wouldn't feel right if this happened moving forward," Craig Robinson told ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday (April 19)

He added, “The third reason is, this needs to stop and change and this will help all students at the University School of Milwaukee."

In a statement to GMA, Head of School Steve Hancock said, "Because our school has not been served with a complaint and not had time to review the allegations, we are not in [a] position to comment on this pending legal matter at this time."

The couple enrolled their sons, 11 and 9, at USM in 2016, according to ABC News. The school removed them in 2021 because the Robinsons had "not fulfilled the foregoing commitments as a partner to USM and its Middle School teachers and administrators," explained a letter the school sent to the couple.

According to the Robinsons, their complaints about racial and ethnic stereotypes in virtual classroom assignments and the school’s failure to address their concerns are at the root of the dispute.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the couple first noticed problematic classroom assignments.

"As a lot of parents, we heard what was going on in the classroom because of COVID and there were repeated use of racial and ethnic stereotypes that were in actual assignments," Craig Robinson said.

"The use of the word plantation and things of that nature. In addition to the racial and ethnic stereotypes, there was an insensitivity to socioeconomic status and as well as a disregard for the children who weren't physically in the classroom."

The Robinsons allege in the lawsuit that the school has a pattern of insensitivity to race that includes failing to discipline white students who use racial slurs at school.

They also highlighted a school activity called the “Underground Railroad” in which students were told to act like “runaway slaves” and run through the school in the dark while teachers acted as the “slave catchers.”

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The lawsuit accuses USM of failing “to provide the supportive, inclusive learning environment that was promised in the enrollment contract, the USM Middle School Handbook, USM's Common Trust."

It also alleges that the school failed to give model students of color the “respect, trust, honesty, fairness or even the basic kindness, mandated by the Common Trust.” The disparity, according to the couple, included denying their children the opportunity to test out of a math class that it granted white students.

Craig Robinson said his first step toward trying to resolve the dispute was to communicate their concerns and offer suggestions, which the school “summarily dismissed.”

Kelly Robinson later submitted two separate bias incidents reports in January and March 2021 that explained their concerns about the classroom assignments.

The suit claims that the school took no action to respond to the reports. Instead, it removed their sons from the school because the Robinsons had "repeatedly engaged in disrespectful and demanding communications with and about our teachers and administrators," a letter to the couple stated.

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