More fallout over segregated school meetings

February 25, 2008 5:46:16 PM PST
The Civil Rights Center at University of North Carolina's School of law is weighing in on segregated school meetings held at Dillard Drive Middle School in Raleigh.

In December, Principal Teresa Abron organized separate meetings with black students and Hispanic students after an alleged gang argument between two girls.

"The message sent to white students is you're immune from all of this and we don't view any of the white students as ever potentially being involved in conflict at this school which of course is absurd," said Ashley Osment, the Senior Attorney at UNC's Civil Rights Center. While several parents at Dillard Drive support the principal others have protested, claiming students civil rights were violated.

Whether a law was broken, Osment tells Eyewitness News that a judge, jury or mediator would need to decide. "I certainly think there's room for exploration on that. Any time someone is treated by a racial classification, there has to be a legitimate public purpose behind that treatment," Osment said.

A group of parents and citizens organized a protest last week outside a Wake County School Board meeting. They're demanding school board members hold a public meeting over the issue since school administrators have declined their requests. Some school board members told Eyewitness News on Monday that they are against a public meeting but they'd be willing to meet in small groups with those who have concerns.

After the protest last week, Superintendent Del Burns told Eyewitness News that he commends the principal for keeping the situation from escalating.

One parent, Andrea Conner, told Eyewitness News that she felt the administration at Dillard Drive handled the situation well.

Osment at the Civil Rights Center feels school leaders should hold a meeting.

"It's incumbent upon Wake county and all other school districts not only to continue to provide diverse learning environments but also do it in such a way that fosters trust and cohesion as opposed to one that fosters typecasting and division," she said.

Osment says they could send a message. "They could use this moment to say, we really value diversity."


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