Local News

School Board Member Responds To Lawsuit Threat Over Segregated Schools

Posted April 7, 2004

— Will the fight to desegregate Goldsboro's schools end up in a courtroom? WRAL found evidence that the state has known about the problem for years.

Before members of the Wayne County School Board went into a one-hour closed session meeting Monday evening, board member Rick Pridgen responded to the NAACP's threat to sue the school district for disparate treatment of predominantly black city schools.

"I don't think it needs to go that far," Pridgen said. "I think the situation with our schools [is] we have to open our doors to whoever comes to our schools."

In Goldsboro schools, minorities make up nearly 100 percent of the student population. Last year only 58 percent of students passed.

"This is about educational equal opportunity," said The Rev. William Barber, who is is leading the effort to desegregate Goldsboro schools.

Barber's chief complaint is the school board's approval of a budget that would give $79 million to county schools while giving less than $6 million to city schools for projects like an air-conditioned rifle range.

"I don't want people to be too comfortable learning how to shoot. We have enough shooting as it is," he said.

While the call for diversity is growing louder these days, the district has known about the problem for a long time. Ten years ago, the state gave the district a set of recommendations. No. 2 on the priority list was to racially balance the schools.

The state also spelled out that old attendance lines should not limit improvement.

"We could actually racially balance as best we could every school, but it would require a lot more buses than we have," Pridgen said.

Barber says that is no excuse.

The NAACP filed a civil rights complaint last week. The group has given no timetable on a lawsuit.



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