Harnett County Coalition Files Civil Rights Complaint with the US Department of Education Over Racial Isolation in Schools

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On November 17, nearly one hundred Harnett County residents gathered in front of the Harnett County Schools administrative building in Lillington to hear Citizens for Harnett Educational Fairness (CHEF) spokesman John Smith announce the filing of a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.  The complaint, filed by the Center for Civil Rights on behalf of CHEF and the Harnett County branch of the NAACP, seeks redress for the Harnett County Board of Education’s refusal to address increasing racial isolation in Dunn area schools and the accompanying discriminatory impacts this isolation has on African American students’ access to equal educational resources. 

The complaint alleges that the school board has intentionally discriminated against African American students by refusing to reassign students to Dunn Middle—the district’s only majority African American middle school, which has more than 230 open seats—despite significant overcrowding elsewhere in the district.  The school board’s preservation of segregative attendance zones also disparately impacts these African American students, as the Dunn area schools have experienced declining academic achievement.

In 2014-2015, Harnett County Schools’ student population was 49.2% white, 24.8% African American, and 11.1% Latino.  By contrast, Dunn Middle was 47.2% African-American, 31.2% white, and 11.7% Latino.  Since 2009-2010, overall End of Grade (EOG) exam passage rates have dropped at Dunn Middle and its two feeder schools.  The overall EOG passage rate at Wayne Avenue Elementary has been cut nearly in half, dropping from 49.7% to 28.9%.

Read the complaint here and media coverage of the press conference by the News and Observer, WUNC, the Dunn Daily Record, and EdNC (including a video of the press conference).

Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. November 19, 2015 10:39 AM
Categories: Education, Segregation
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