November 23, 2020

Policy allowing parents to request specific teachers leads to segregated Mississippi classrooms

The Brookhaven School District’s policy of “parental request” results in some segregated classrooms at the elementary school level, according to a story in the Jackson Clarion Ledger, obtained from the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.

The informal policy, which is utilized by white and black families, allows parents to ask for specific teachers for children. The practice has been in place for several years. U.S. Department of Justice files obtained by MCIR show that the district has created all-black classrooms while grouping white students together.

“The reports, filed each fall as required by the district’s ongoing 1970 federal integration order, show no all-white classrooms, but all-black classrooms, or classrooms with black-to-white ratios far above the schools’ racial makeup, are common each year at Mamie Martin Elementary School, Brookhaven Elementary School and Lipsey Middle School, which cover kindergarten through sixth grade,” the MCIR story said.

Similar practices in neighboring school districts were found to violate the 14th amendment. Walthall County was clustering a disproportionate number of white students together, a practice that a federal judge ordered in 2010 to stop. A similar ruling was made against McComb schools for its practice of parental choice.

Brookhaven remains under a 1970 Justice Department desegregation order.

Supporters of parental request say the practice keeps more white families in the district, which they say is better for the district as a whole.

The Brookhaven School District Board of Trustees did not respond to requests for information for the Clarion Ledger story regarding the policy.

For the full report visit: https://www.mississippicir.org/education/63-years-after-brown-segregated-classrooms-persist-in-one-mississippi-school-district