Education

NAACP accuses Wayne schools of 'extreme re-segregation'

Posted December 1, 2009 9:31 a.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2010 12:07 p.m. EST

— The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has filed a federal complaint against Wayne County Public Schools, saying its practices deprive students of color, particularly black students, of their constitutional right to an education.

"This action comes after years of talking and good-faith efforts to end its patterns and policies that have resulted in the creation of extreme re-segregation and a district of apartheid education within what is supposed to be a unified one-county school system," state NAACP President Rev. William Barber said at a news conference Tuesday.

Barber said that the 12-page complaint, filed with the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, cites policies that have resulted in poor performance statistics, including lower graduation rates, higher dropout and suspension rates, and stiffer discipline for black students.

The state NAACP alleges that the school system uses buses to segregate schools in Goldsboro by race rather than by neighborhood. Barber said the practice results in some schools that are "100 percent African-American with maybe one or two white children."

"It sounds impossible," he said, "but the fact is it's existing right now."

Ken Derksen, a spokesman for Wayne County schools, said Tuesday that the school system hasn't received a formal complaint but that there are some misleading elements in parts of which they have been made aware.

The school system, he said, is working to improve test scores and reduce achievement gaps, but he insists it is not an issue of segregated schools.

"The challenge is that you can't redistrict based on race and you can't force students to be bused based on race," he said. "It is just simply unconstitutional."

He added that the NAACP findings, based on what he has seen, don't fully take into account all the elements at play in student make-up, including students in private schools.