Federal education officials heard evidence from African-American parents who said Wake County, North Carolina schools discriminate against their children and disciplines them unfairly, the News & Observer reports.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights organized the meeting in Mid-April as part of its probe into systemic racial bias. The newspaper said about 75 people attended the meeting at the Vital Link Center near downtown Raleigh.

According to the News & Observer, many in the audience complained about hostile school resource officers who targeted Black students.

Ajamu Dillahunt, who graduated last year from Southeast Raleigh High School, called for the removal of the officers, the newspaper reported.

“There’s a war on Black students. There’s a war on Black America,” said Dillahunt, who’s now a freshman at N.C. Central University.

Gwen McKenzie told federal officials that she has witnessed how physically aggressive White teachers are with Black students. McKenzie said she confronted one teacher who grabbed her son by his backpack, according to the News & Observer.

“They try to break our boys when they are young,” McKenzie added.

The investigation stems from a 2010 federal civil rights complaint from the state NAACP and other groups. These organizations say the disparity is glaring. Blacks represent just 24 percent of the school district’s students, yet they accounted for 63 percent of suspensions during the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Moreover, Black students represented 69 percent of school resource officers’ court system referrals last year. At the same time, the officers were nearly two times more likely to arrest a Black student for fighting and theft compared to students of other races.

In its defense, local school officials say they’ve actively reduced out-of-school suspensions and pursued alternatives to traditional punishment. The school district released this statement, via the News & Observer:

“The school system has reduced student suspensions by 34 percent in the past five years while emphasizing positive behaviors as part of its discipline programs. About 90 percent of our African-American students are never suspended during their school careers.”

According to the newspaper, the district said it welcomed the input from federal officials.

SOURCE: News & Observer | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

SEE ALSO:

Education Department Launches Discrimination Probe Of Florida School District

Survey: Black & Hispanic Parents See Discrimination In The Education System

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