Investigators hear of school segregation concerns in Wayne County

Posted May 17, 2010 10:57 p.m. EDT
Updated May 18, 2010 6:41 a.m. EDT

— Investigators looking into allegations of segregation in the Wayne County School System heard from parents Monday evening.

Staffers from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education attended a public forum at the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 E. Ash St. in Goldsboro.

The meeting was held to address the state NAACP's claims of segregation in the district.

"Segregation is here and something needs to be done,” parent Michelle Moore told the investigators during the forum.

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

Parents say the signs of racial segregation are obvious.

"The commonality is that they happen to be African American,” parent Lynette Cox said.

“We are going to always have segregation because that is what it is. Call it what it is,” parent Wataqua Cox said.

The NAACP says school policies have resulted in higher dropout and suspension rates, lower graduation rates and stiffer discipline for black students.

The civil rights group says 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 2008-09 school year. For white students, that rate was 76.7 percent.

The NAACP also alleges that the school system uses buses to segregate schools in Goldsboro by race rather than by neighborhood.

The investigators said they are not yet sure if any laws have been broken, and Chairman Rick Pridgen declined to comment Monday on the ongoing investigation.

Another public forum is planned for Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Rebuilding Broken Places Community Center, 2105 North William St. in Goldsboro.