Blog Posts: Segregation

Walnut Tree Community Challenges Discrimination in Town's Refusal to Annex

Walnut Tree residents at Town meeting
Walnut Tree residents at public hearing on annexation
After a decades-long fight for equal justice, residents of the Walnut Tree community and the Walnut Tree Community Association (WTCA) have filed a lawsuit alleging that the Town of Walnut Cove discriminated against the residents of this predominantly African American neighborhood when it refused their request to be annexed and fully included in the Town. The complaint argues that the Town’s repeated denials of Walnut Tree’s requests for annexation violate the Equal Protection Clause of the North Carolina Constitution.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Thu. September 21, 2017 2:25 PM
Categories: Annexation, Community Inclusion, Race Discrimination, Segregation

UNC Center for Civil Rights Inclusion Project Report Examines School Segregation and Educational Equity in Duplin County

In its new Inclusion Project report, the UNC Center for Civil Rights examines direct community-based, education advocacy in Duplin County. The Inclusion Project seeks to provide communities, advocates, funders, and policy makers with an understanding of the challenges facing excluded communities. 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.
The UNC Center for Civil Rights’ newest county profile highlights repeated and continuing decisions by Duplin County Schools (DCS) regarding school locations, feeder patterns, grade alignments, and attendance area boundaries that have foreseeably produced racially isolated schools, reflecting historic and deeply entrenched patterns of residential racial segregation. This report is the first installment of a three-part series on education, environmental justice and civic engagement in Duplin County. In the series, CCR aims to present the data along with an historical perspective to show how the struggles for education equity, environmental justice, and equal access to political representation overlap and inform each other.

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Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Wed. August 16, 2017 4:16 PM
Categories: Education, Race Discrimination, Segregation

The Missing Racial Context of "Energizing East": The Persistence of School Segregation in Duplin County

On December 8th, EdNC posted an article titled “Wallace Elementary: Growing greatness in Duplin County.”  The article is the second in EdNC’s Energizing East series, which highlights STEM education practices in counties across eastern North Carolina.  While teachers and administrators are engaged in important work to advance STEM education across the region, it is a disservice to the students, families, teachers, and administrators in those counties featured in this series to focus on these schools without providing the context of racial and economic segregation that exists in these districts.  It is even a greater disservice to ignore the fact that this persistent segregation is the direct result of decisions by local school boards, and undermines the educational outcomes these innovative programs are designed to improve.

There is no doubt that EdNC’s description of Wallace Elementary as a “hive of activity” is correct.  However, while the buzz in and around the school’s STEM lab is a testament to the commitment of teachers and administrators, they are working in the shadow of a “Schools Facility Plan” adopted by the Duplin County Board of Education in 2014 that exemplifies the school district’s decades-long refusal to address the racial segregation its own policies have created and maintained.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. January 4, 2017 4:26 PM
Categories: Education, Segregation

A Sound Basic Education—Exhibit 1: Student Access to Certified, Well-Trained Teachers in Wayne County Public Schools

The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools
The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools' nine middle schools during the 2015-16 school year.

Almost 20 years ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court held in the landmark case of Leandro v. State that every child in our state has a constitutional right to “the opportunity for a sound basic education.” In defining a sound basic education, the Court looked at the educational resources that school districts make available to their students, including access to effective teachers. In the follow-up Leandro II decision, the Court re-emphasized the importance of quality teachers, holding that a sound basic education calls for “every classroom [to] be staffed with a competent, certified, well-trained teacher.”

Student access to certified, well-trained teachers often differs dramatically from school to school however—and far too often depends upon a school’s racial composition. In concluding that racially segregated schools “may fail to provide the full panoply of benefits that K-12 schools can offer,” the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools specifically highlighted that segregated schools struggle to attract effective teachers and often have higher teacher turnover rates.

In the Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) Central (Goldsboro High) attendance area, the connection between segregation and access to certified, well-trained teachers, is readily apparent. Wayne County serves an overall student population that is 34.9% African American. However, African American students represent between 87.5% and 92.6% of students in all Goldsboro area schools. During the 2014-15 school year, teachers with three years or less of experience accounted for 33.3% of teachers at Goldsboro High and 42.5% of teachers at Dillard Middle, the second- and third-highest percentages of such inexperienced teachers across WCPS. That same year, Central Attendance area schools accounted for three of the four highest teacher turnover rates in the district.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. November 17, 2016 1:32 PM
Categories: Education, Leandro, Segregation

VIDEO: Silver v. Halifax County NC Court of Appeals Argument


On September 19, 2016, the NC Court of Appeals heard oral argument in the Center’s groundbreaking education case, Silver v. Halifax County Bd. of Commissioners.

Watch the argument

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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. October 31, 2016 2:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Race Discrimination, Segregation

Charters, Segregation, and Social Justice- A Response to Dr. Danielsen

Relying on research from Vermont and Santa Ana, Dr. Bartley Danielsen’s Point of View column “More school choice will ease social ills,” exhorts North Carolinians to “embrace charter schools” and private school vouchers to address the continuing impacts of residential segregation. But Dr. Danielsen ignores two critical elements: first, the responsibility of school boards that promote and defend so-called “neighborhood schools” assignment plans that replicate and reinforce segregation in public schools; and second, in North Carolina, the charter schools he urges us to embrace are almost twice as segregated as traditional public schools.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Wed. October 26, 2016 9:17 AM
Categories: Education, Segregation

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

Center Files Amicus Brief in North Carolina Voting Rights Case

The CenterThis week the Center for Civil Rights filed an amicus curiae brief in the in the ongoing legal challenge to HB 589, the State’s 2013 voting law that imposed voter id requirements, cut early voting, and eliminated same-day registration, out of precinct ballots, and pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds.


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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. May 27, 2016 2:34 PM
Categories: Race Discrimination, Segregation, Voting Rights

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
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