A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit that accused the city of Boynton Beach of racial discrimination for hiking its fees, putting summer camp beyond the financial reach of many parents in the black community.
U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg said city activist Bernard Wright can file another lawsuit if he gets more information to shore up his claims. But, she said, the lawsuit he filed in June was legally flawed.
“There are no facts to support (Wright’s) allegation of racial discrimination,” Rosenberg wrote in a three-page order, dismissing the lawsuit this month.
Wright claimed the fee hike had a disproportionate impact on black children who live in the impoverished neighborhood surrounding the Carolyn Sims Center, a city-owned recreation center that hosted a summer day camp.
A fee increase on its face is race-neutral, Rosenberg said. “There must be some factual allegation for the court to infer discriminatory animus,” she wrote.
Wright needs to back up his allegations with an explanation of why the fee was increased and the motivation of those who approved it. In court papers, Wright said he intended to research city records to find the information Rosenberg said could help sustain his allegations. Attorney Dameka Davis, who is representing Wright, said she plans to refile the suit.
Boynton Beach leaders said the $550 it charged for the eight-week camp was among the lowest in Palm Beach County. Further, it said, scholarships were available to families who couldn’t afford it.
Mayor Steven Grant said he would like to be able to offer free summer camp to all children in the city. Unfortunately, he said, it’s not financially feasible.