Local News

Appeals Court to Hear Durham Schools Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted July 6, 2007 6:49 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2007 12:22 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals will hear a lawsuit accusing Durham Public Schools of targeting black students.

The complaint, filed more than a year ago, claims former school Superintendent Ann Denlinger and the Board of Education violated the civil rights of black students for suspending them without due process.

Oral arguments are set for September. A motion to dismiss the suit has not yet been ruled on.

North Carolina Central University law professor Patti Solari claims that in one year, black students made up about 80 percent of those suspended without an opportunity to be heard.

"They're targeting them based on race," she said.

Former PTA Council President Jack Gibson has disputed the claim, calling it an inaccurate assessment of what has occurred.

"We have a higher population of blacks than we do whites," he said.

Black students make up about 55 percent of the school system's total population, white students make up about 24 percent, and other races comprise the remaining population.

Ann Majestic, attorney for the Durham school board, has said there is no evidence to support the claim of suspensions based on race and that many of the students listed in the lawsuit don't dispute they were involved in misconduct.

The original trial judge sided with the school board and threw out the case.