Office for Civil Rights,
District of Columbia Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20202-1475
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am writing to complain about discrimination based on race against minority students, primarily African American students, 42% of the total enrollment of the Charleston County School District, 75 Calhoun St., Charleston, South Carolina, 29401.
The recent decision to close another school where the enrollment is almost all African American is the latest in an ongoing pattern of actions taken by the school district which clearly discriminate against minority children.
Seven years ago, the school district closed five schools. All five schools were high minority schools. In looking back over the last thirty, there is no record of the closure of a predominantly white neighborhood school with a resultant redistribution of students to other than their neighborhood school.
The reasons given are always the same. First, the district has to save money in order to balance its budget without a tax increase. The per pupil costs in the schools nominated for closure are usually among the highest in the district Second, the schools proposed for closure are significantly underperforming. Close the school, transfer students to “better” schools, and the quality of their education will significantly improve. There is no evidence to support this assumption or to demonstrate its effectiveness after the fact. Moreover, White schools are never closed.
But this discrimination complaint is about far more than school closures. It is about a long standing pattern of policies and practices which discriminate against minority students, especially low income minority students, and never discriminate against white children. Black/White achievement gaps are indefensible and growing. For example, the school district educated African American students only well enough for 5.1% of them to qualify for the state’s Life Scholarship. For White students that percentage was 47.4%.
African American students are more than 5 times as likely to be suspended from school as White students and more than 4 times as likely as all other students combined. Black students are 41 times more likely to be expelled from school than White students.
Even in our best school – the 8th best high school in the Nation – where students are theoretically hand-picked based on ability; the average composite score for African American students on the 2015 SAT was 58 points lower than the average composite score for White students. The district produces better average results on the SAT for its White students than the rest of South Carolina, but it produces worse average results for its African American students than the rest if South Carolina.
A careful analysis of district data does not reveal any incidence of student achievement where a Black/White achievement gap does not exist. To list all the examples here would require a document many pages in length.
This letter requests your timely investigation and intervention into a deplorable condition too long ignored. Should you need more information, I will be happy to try to get you the information you need.
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