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Parents of black students demand action by Decatur Schools to address unequal treatment

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Parents of black students demand action by Decatur Schools to address unequal treatment

Decatur's Beacon Hill Black Alliance held a forum at City Schools of Decatur's Central Office on Feb. 8., 2017. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
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Decatur’s Beacon Hill Branch of the NAACP held a forum at City Schools of Decatur’s Central Office on Feb. 8., 2017. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

A group of parents representing black students in City Schools of Decatur say they’ve waited long enough for the school district to address their concerns.

The Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, formerly known as the Beacon Hill Branch of the NAACP, will unveil a list of demands at the Sept. 11 School Board meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at 125 Electric Avenue in Decatur. If those demands are not met, the group says it “will begin implementing non-violent direct action in the next 30 days.”

The group did not specify what actions it would take.

 

 

The issue has been on CSD’s radar for two years. In response, the School Board hired a firm to study the issue and hired an equity director to tackle the problem.

According to the report, released during the summer, in general black students were more likely to have a disproportionate number of unexcused absences, tardies and behavioral incidents. Additionally, black students were more likely to receive free or reduced lunches and participate in early intervention programs.

On the other hand, black students were less likely to participate in gifted programs or extracurriculars (although the extracurricular information only included varsity sports, junior varsity sports, and National Honors Society).

The report provided “actionable considerations” as steps to take in the future. These included providing regular equity-focused training opportunities, adjusting resource allocation, reviewing practices and policies and expanding teacher hiring practices to ensure diversity.

The Alliance cited several statistics in the report.

“According to a report presented by Dr. [David] Dude, the City Schools of Decatur Superintendent, in 2015-16 black students represented 23.2 percent of the student body but received 73.9 percent of rude/disorderly conduct citations,” the group said. “In 2015-16 a black student in CSD was eight times more likely to be cited for rude/disorderly conduct. In academic year 2016-17 black students represented 22.1 percent of student enrollment but were suspended at three times the rate of their white counterparts. With respect to academic disparities, between Fall 2013 and Fall 2017, and across all elementary grades, black students performed on average 20 percent points lower than their white peers. Between academic year 2015-16 and 2017-18 less than one in 10 black students were represented in the Gifted Students Program.”

Deborah Mitchell, Co-chair of Beacon Hill’s Education Committee, said it’s time for the School Board to step up and address the problem.

“We have met for two years and attended every meeting we have been asked to, but our children still suffer. Enough is enough. We are demanding an immediate change,” she said.

Decaturish sent a message to Superintendent David Dude seeking comment and will update this story when he responds.

In related news, the Beacon Hill Branch of the NAACP said it was forced to change its name to the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights.

“The group had been seeking to become a chartered branch of the NAACP, but was denied a charter in May,” the group explained. “The reason provided by the NAACP National Board member who communicated the news of the denial was that the DeKalb County Branch of the NAACP opposed a new branch being formed within their geographical territory.”

Here is the Alliance’s full announcement about the Sept. 11 meeting:

City of Decatur Students and Parents to make demands at Board of Education meeting to end Discipline Disproportionately and the Achievement Gap for Black Students 

September 10, 2018- Tuesday at 6:30pm at 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur 30030, a group of students and parents organized by the recently established Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights will unveil a list of demands to address discipline disproportionately and the achievement gap that continues to exist for African American students in City Schools of Decatur.

According to a report presented by Dr. Dude, the City Schools of Decatur Superintendent, in 2015-16 black students represented 23.2% of the student body but received 73.9% of rude/disorderly conduct citations. In 2015-16 a black student in CSD was 8 times more likely to be cited for rude/disorderly conduct. In academic year 2016-17 black students represented 22.1% of student enrollment but were suspended at 3 times the rate of their white counterparts. With respect to Academic Disparities, between Fall 2013 and Fall 2017, and across all elementary grades, Black students performed on average 20% points lower than their white peers. Between academic year 2015-16 and 2017-18 less than 1 in 10 black students were represented in the Gifted Students Program.

“Dr. Dude inherited a system where Black children are suffering and struggling without any relief. The administrators across the district must understand “why we can’t wait” another school year for a clear, concrete, and comprehensive plan. If our demands are not met we will begin implementing non-violent direct action in the next 30 days. It is our duty to stand with and for our children”. Attorney Mawuli Davis, chair of Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights.

“We have met for 2 years and attended every meeting we have been asked to, but our children still suffer. Enough is enough. We are demanding an immediate change.” – Deborah Mitchell, Co-chair of Beacon Hill’s Education Committee

Assistant Editor Ellie Ritter contributed to this story. 

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