Native American students class action lawsuit over GEAR UP to be heard by SD Supreme Court


A class action lawsuit filed by Native American students over the lack of results of the college readiness program, GEAR UP, is going all the way to the South Dakota Supreme Court.

As KELOLAND Investigates first reported in 2016, Alyssa Black Bear and Kelsey Walking Eagle joined together to file the lawsuit because they say they want justice and restitution for as many as 6,600 Native American students.

Our KELOLAND News investigation found that despite millions of dollars being spent on the GEAR UP program in South Dakota, there were no data to show any Native American kids went to college because of participating in it.

The former GEAR UP students filed suit against Mid Central Educational Cooperative, which administered the grant, along with some of its leaders and its board of directors.

While the students won several battles in court, ultimately South Dakota Circuit Court Judge Bruce Anderson agreed with the defendants that federal law doesn’t allow students to sue for breach of contract or malfeasance because the GEAR UP grant fell under the higher education act.

Both sides will be arguing in front of the South Dakota Supreme Court on October 2nd in Vermillion.

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