Blog Posts: Education

UNC Center for Civil Rights Inclusion Project: Education Advocacy in New Hanover County

The above map shows clusters of Census blocks in Wilmington where 75% or more of residents are non-white.  A statewide map is available at http://www.uncinclusionproject.org/.

The above map shows clusters of Census blocks in Wilmington where 75% or more of residents are non-white. A statewide map is available at http://www.uncinclusionproject.org/.

In New Hanover County, public school officials continue to grapple with the tension between promoting racial and socio-economic diversity in schools and the political pressure of suburban parents who favor an assignment plan that emphasizes proximity, often referred to as a “neighborhood school” plan. That term can be misleading when only certain neighborhoods are prioritized, and ignores the reality that such assignment plans reinforce patterns of residential segregation and sacrifice the educational benefits of racially and socio-economically diverse schools. In its new Inclusion Project report, the UNC Center for Civil Rights describes direct community-based, education advocacy in New Hanover County. The Inclusion Project grew out of the Center’s community-based advocacy focused on addressing structural inequities and promoting racial equity and inclusion. The project began in 2013 with the release of “The State of Exclusion” report, and includes a series of county profiles analyzing the continuing impacts of the legacy of racial segregation.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Tue. September 6, 2016 12:03 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Education

Remembering Harry Briggs Jr. and Continuing His Legacy

Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.
Harry Briggs Jr. (far right) with classmates. ©NAACP LDF.

On August 9, 2016, Harry Briggs Jr. passed away at his home in the Bronx, New York. In 1947, at the age of 12, Briggs Jr. was the first to sign a petition in Clarendon County, South Carolina demanding equal access in education for black students. The court case that followed that petition, Briggs v. Elliot, was one of five consolidated cases in Brown v. Board of Education. Although Brown became the recognizable name in ruling “separate but equal” education unconstitutional, Briggs was the first of the five cases to challenge racial segregation, and its plaintiffs suffered mightily for it.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. August 22, 2016 2:16 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled

On Monday, July 18, 2016, the Center for Civil Rights filed its reply brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, reasserting its fundamental argument that a board of county commissioners—like any government actor or agency—has a constitutional obligation to ensure schoolchildren have the opportunity to secure a sound basic education.

The case was filed by the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren in Halifax. The plaintiffs assert that the county commissioners’ inequitable and inefficient allocation of education resources among, and maintenance of, three racially segregated and low performing school districts in the county violates the right of students to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution (and affirmed by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the Leandro cases). Incredibly, the commissioners insist that while they admittedly have constitutional and statutory obligations to provide critical educational resources, those obligations have no relation to or bearing upon the right to or provision of a constitutionally-complaint education in Halifax County.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. July 20, 2016 4:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Plaintiffs File Brief to NC Court of Appeals in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

On Wednesday, May 4, the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren filed their brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners. The Plaintiffs brought suit against the County last August, seeking to vindicate the constitutional right of all Halifax County schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound basic education established under the Leandro decision. The Plaintiffs’ appeal comes after the trial court dismissed the lawsuit in early February, holding that the County has no constitutional obligations under Leandro.

In their brief to the Court of Appeals, CEES and the NAACP argue they must be afforded the opportunity to present evidence at trial and prove that the County’s maintenance of its three racially segregated school districts blocks all students’ opportunity to receive a Leandro-compliant education. Leandro II provides that local governments must allocate resources in a manner that provides children the opportunity for a sound basic education.

Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, on behalf of Public Schools First NC, filed an amicus brief in support of the Appellants’ Leandro claim. The amicus brief highlights Legal Aid of North Carolina’s work with students in Halifax County, and the lack of educational opportunity these students face because of the misallocation of educational resources among the county’s three school districts. Amici note that at-risk students in Halifax’s racially isolated districts suffer inadequate educational programs, poor academic outcomes, and disproportionately high rates of student discipline.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. May 6, 2016 12:20 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

CCDC and NAACP File Accreditation Complaint, as Duplin County Schools Move Forward With Facilities Plan

On April 15, the Concerned Citizens of Duplin County (CCDC) and the Duplin County Branch of the North Carolina NAACP filed an accreditation complaint against the Duplin County Board of Education.  The complaint alleges the Board has failed to comply with a number of standards set by AdvancED, a school accrediting agency that accredited Duplin County Schools in September 2014.

The CCDC and NAACP filed the complaint less than two weeks after the Duplin County Board of Education voted to begin construction to retrofit existing school facilities, turning them into K-8 schools as part of a $65 million dollar facilities plan.  In December 2014, the CCDC filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging the Board’s facilities plan illegally discriminates against non-white students by denying them access to quality facilities and concentrating them in racially segregated schools.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. April 18, 2016 4:47 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

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

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.


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

Plaintiffs Appeal in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

CEES banner

On February 22, the plaintiffs in Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners announced they are appealing the dismissal of their education equity lawsuit filed last August.  The suit, based on the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantee that every child be provided the opportunity to secure a sound basic education, argued that the county commissioners’ maintenance of three inefficiently funded, racially segregated school districts in Halifax County undermines educational opportunities guaranteed by the constitution and the state supreme court’s landmark Leandro decisions.  Read about the dismissal.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. February 24, 2016 11:14 AM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Community Group Sues Johnston County Board of Education to Obtain Public Records

On February 18, the Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools (CCSS) filed a lawsuit against the Johnston County Board of Education and Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom, seeking a court order compelling the school district to provide requested public records.

The North Carolina Public Records Act is clear: public records are the property of the people.  Members of the public have the right to inspect and receive copies of non-confidential records created and maintained by State and local government.  This right is essential to good governance and the efforts of community leaders across the state to engage with elected officials on important policymaking decisions.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Mon. February 22, 2016 11:00 AM
Categories: Education

Superior Court Dismisses Halifax Leandro Litigation

In a disappointing but not surprising decision, Superior Court Judge W. Russell Duke, Jr. dismissed Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, the lawsuit filed last August by the Center on behalf of the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardian in Halifax County, NC.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Wed. February 3, 2016 3:19 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Pretrial Hearing in Halifax County Sound Basic Education Suit

On Tuesday, December 22, in Halifax, NC, Judge Russell Duke will hear a number of pretrial motions from the Halifax County Board of Commissioners, including a motion to dismiss, in Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners.  The hearing will be the first to address substantive issues since the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians filed suit against the Board of Commissioners in August, to vindicate the state constitutional right of all Halifax County children to the opportunity for a sound basic education.  Read the Plaintiffs’ brief in opposition to the Board of Commissioners’ motions.

Earlier this month, Judge Duke denied eight of nine motions to have out-of-state attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Latham & Watkins LLP join the Center for Civil Rights in representing the Plaintiffs.

Center attorneys Mark Dorosin and Elizabeth Haddix, as well as Eileen O’Connor from Lawyers’ Committee, will represent the Plaintiffs at Tuesday’s hearing.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. December 18, 2015 4:46 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County
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