PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the case of a suburban Philadelphia swim club that has been accused of racial discrimination.
The review will determine whether the department's Civil Rights Division will officially investigate the matter, department spokesman Alejandro Miyar said Friday.
The Valley Club has said race had nothing to do with the club's decision to ask a Philadelphia day camp not to bring mostly black and Hispanic children from Creative Steps camp back to the Huntingdon Valley club to swim. John Duesler, president of the board of directors, said there were too many children on the camp's June 29 visit and many couldn't swim.
But Creative Steps director Alethea Wright said some children reported hearing racial comments during the outing, and the camp's $1,950 was refunded a few days later.
Sonya Toler, executive director of Gov. Rendell's Advisory Commission on African American Affairs, sought the review, saying in a letter to Assistant Attorney General Loretta King that the commission was “deeply troubled and concerned.''
“In this day and time, black and Latino children should never be turned away from a service, especially one they paid for, because of the color of their skin,'' Toler said. “You'd like to think that everyone who stood on the line for civil rights had fought this fight already and won it.''
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., earlier called the allegations “extremely disturbing'' and asked the department to look into the matter.
Duesler did not respond to phone calls and e-mails Friday.
Carolyn Nichols, an attorney for Creative Steps, called the action appropriate.
“It's very significant that you have entities of this level undertaking this kind of investigation,'' she said.
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,