Education

Justice Department investigating NAACP segregation complaint

Posted February 4, 2010 12:07 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2010 2:17 p.m. EST

— The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice will join an investigation into the state NAACP's claims of re-segregation in Wayne County Public Schools.

The group, in December, filed a federal Title VI complaint against the school system, claiming its practices deprive students of color, particularly black students, of their constitutional right to an education.

The Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education is already investigating.

"This intervention by the United States of America will give added strength to the new fusion movement that is developing in Wayne County that, we believe, will lead the way to first-class schools and teachers for all our children," state NAACP President Rev. William Barber said Thursday.

In its complaint, the NAACP 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 group says that less than 50 percent of black, Hispanic and Native American children in grades 3-8 achieved a proficient score on end-of-grade tests for the 2008-2009 school year. For white students, that rate was 76.7 percent.

Less than 60 percent of minority students in high school were proficient, while the rate among their white counterparts was around 80 percent.

The NAACP also alleges that the school system uses buses to segregate schools in Goldsboro by race rather than by neighborhood, a practice, Barber has said has resulted in "extreme re-segregation."

A Wayne County school system spokesman has said the school system is working to improve test scores and reduce achievement gaps but that it is not an issue of segregated schools.