State News

Coalition of groups sues Halifax commissioners over schools

Posted August 24, 2015

— A coalition of advocacy groups and parents is suing the Halifax County commissioners over a three-district school system which the plaintiffs say divides children into "good" and "bad" school districts along racial lines.

The 38-page lawsuit was filed Monday in Halifax County Superior Court. The plaintiffs include the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of children attending public schools in Halifax county.

In their lawsuit, the groups say the commissioners have maintained an inefficient system that creates obstacles for local children that counters North Carolina's constitutional guarantee to all schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound, basic education.

"Our children have waited too long to receive the education they are entitled to," said CEES chairperson, Rebecca Copeland in a statement. "Perpetuating an education system with three racially identifiable and inequitably resourced school districts undermines the opportunity to a sound, basic education guaranteed by our state constitution."

Also, the plaintiffs say that because of the county's tax distribution method, the system imposes a stigma of racial inferiority upon black students, undermining academic achievement and frustrating their access to quality educational resources.

"We stand together today to advocate for all students in Halifax County," said Halifax County NAACP president, David Harvey. "Experience has shown that consolidating these three districts is an essential first step toward ending the unacceptable disparities in educational opportunities which reinforce the vestiges of racial stigma which is the legacy of segregation."

Commission chairman Vernon J. Bryant didn't immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Monday.


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