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After Federal Investigation, Durham Schools Agree To Improve Education Of Minority Students

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DURHAM — The Durham school district ended an 19-month federal investigation by agreeing to improve the education of minority children. Many parents learned the details of the agreement for the first time on Saturday.

Parents and community leaders are concerned that African-American students are more likely to drop out, get suspended, or be enrolled in remedial classes.

"From the conversations I've had with parents, there is a lot of racial profiling in the school system," says parent Linda Daniels-Bryant.

John Schwade believes his daughter's education may suffer because of her race. He attended the Saturday meeting with civil rights investigators to find out what the Durham school district plans to do about it.

"When you're the father of a minority child, you're in the school with them and you see things you wish you hadn't seen," Schwade says.

Civil rights investigators outlined specific steps the district will take to reduce the dropout rate and improve disciplinary practices. Community leaders say they are satisfied with the outcome, and they want the school district to act on its promises.

"The school system recognized just as the Justice Department did that there were reasons for concern, and the school system agreed to take those measures as if it had been found that there were discrepancies," says Larry Hall of the Durham Committee on Affairs of Black People. "If the investigation is stopped in the interim phase and the school system agrees and takes the action, that's what we're concerned about."

The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People says a class-action lawsuit is still a possibility.

Officials from the Durham school system refused to comment on the story.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
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