Increasing Segregation and Achievement Disparities Persist in Wake County Schools, as Title VI Investigation Continues

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On Tuesday, April 12, investigators from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights met with parents, students, and concerned community members from Wake County, as part of their ongoing investigation of a Title VI complaint filed against Wake County Schools (WCS) in 2010.  During the meeting, the Center for Civil Rights provided OCR investigators with updated student demographic and testing data for schools in the Wake County district. 

The NAACP, community organizations, and local parents filed the Title VI complaint after Wake County Schools abandoned its socioeconomic-conscious student assignment plan in the summer of 2010.  The complaint alleges the district’s abandonment of its former assignment plan—as well as its student discipline practices—illegally discriminate against non-white students by denying them equal access to educational resources.

As predicted by the Title VI complaint, segregation has increased across WCS since the district abandoned its socioeconomic-conscious student assignment plan in 2010.  Racial demographics at 84 schools diverge significantly from that district average.

WCS’s increasing segregation into white and non-white schools has undercut effective integration throughout the district.  At Southeast Raleigh High, the percentage of non-white students increased from 78% to 93%.  Walnut Creek Elementary, which opened in southeast Raleigh after the school district abandoned its socioeconomic-conscious assignment plan, serves a student population that is 98.7% non-white.

The Department of Education’s 2011 Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools recognizes that declining student achievement is one of the foremost impacts of school segregation.  At 29 of Wake County’s racially identifiable, non-white schools, EOG/EOC passage rates have declined faster than the district average since 2008-2009.

As OCR investigates this now six-year-old Title VI complaint, Wake County’s schoolchildren—some of whom were not born at the time the complaint was filed—continue to be harmed by increasing segregation and alarming student achievement disparities.  OCR’s intervention is long overdue to prevent further harm to these children and to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. April 13, 2016 4:52 PM
Categories: Education, Race Discrimination, Segregation, Wake County
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