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Atlanta area school district lacks equity, action group wants

Georgia

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 9/12/2018, 10:33 a.m.
The last thing you’d think you’d hear from an Atlanta area school district is that it has major disparities in...

The last thing you’d think you’d hear from an Atlanta area school district is that it has major disparities in treatment when it comes to its students of color. However, a group of parents, students and community members – called the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights – filled the City Schools of Decatur board room Sept. 11 to demand that the district develop a plan to address disparities. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the advocacy group sent a letter to district officials asking why the district’s Equity Report doesn’t address concerns with implicit bias, discrimination and closing the achievement gap between the district’s Black and white students. Mawuli Davis, an attorney and co-chairman of the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, said Superintendent David Dude presented the disparities, but never addressed them. “We applaud him for his courage bringing forth this information,” Davis said. “That was over two years ago. There have been some efforts to address the discipline disparities as well as the achievement gap, but nothing that has moved the needle. And that’s what we are here to do -- to ensure our demands are met in the next 30 days and that we see a change immediately for our young people.” Among other things in the report, during the 2015-16 school year, Black students represented 23.2 percent of the student body, but received 73.9 percent of rude/disorderly conduct citations. Between the fall of 2013 and the fall of 2017, Black elementary school students performed, on average, 20 percentage points lower than their white peers. Among the demands are an immediate end to out-of-school suspensions, effective Oct. 1, for students from kindergarten through fifth grade, establishing a grievance process “with procedures for students and parents to address teacher and administrator discrimination,” establishment of a district equity plan and that evaluations rate a staff member’s cultural competence.