Tentative settlement in Mattawa day-care suits against state - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tentative settlement in Mattawa day-care suits against state

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Associated Press - May 30, 2008 8:35 PM ET

MATTAWA, Wash. (AP) - In tentative settlements, the state has agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle civil rights lawsuits brought by Latino-owned day-care centers in the Eastern Washington town of Mattawa.

The two lawsuits alleged that the "white mayor of Mattawa," Judy Esser, and members of the "all-white Mattawa Police Department" urged a state investigation into day-care providers working in the community of 3,000, which in 2001 was about 95% Hispanic. The lawsuits said the ensuing investigation included unlawful searches and seizures.

If approved by a federal judge, the nine plaintiffs in one case would receive $45,000 each, and the state would revise its manual on handling home child-care inspections.

The tentative settlement in the other case totals about $1.7 million. But DSHS says the split between the 21 plaintiffs and their private Seattle attorneys hasn't been determined.

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