Update: theLoop received this letter from the parent in this case:
To the Editor:
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education the Office of Civil Rights completed an investigation of the Central Elementary School in the Mamaroneck Union Free School District and found segregation occurred involving innocent kindergarten children including my son.. The Mamaroneck UFSD is the school district in which Tim Geithner’s (U.S. Secretary of the Treasury) son just graduated from. The school district hid the federal investigation and the results from the community and local politicians until today. The principal and superintendent continue in their respective roles. I have asked the Department of Education/OCR to continue the investigation of the other grades as well as the problem of segregation is not limited to the kindergarten grade. Please find (HERE a copy of the letter to download) that I wrote that initiated the investigation and the report from the Office of Civil Rights detailing their findings.
The parent of a Kindergartener at Central Elementary School in Larchmont/Mamaroneck filed a complaint with the Dept. of Education claiming racial desegregation. The result? Depends who you ask.
See the report on LoHud. Larchmont’s Lou Young filed this report for WCBS.
Then, the letter that came today from Mamaroneck School District, reporting the results of a U.S. Dept.of Education civil rights probe, that caught even many parents at Central Elementary School, where these events took place, by surprise:
Dear Parents and Community Members,
In the fall of 2011, two Kindergarten families from Central School raised concerns about the racial/ethnic make-up of a particular Kindergarten class. While the District’s class placement guidelines require classes to be balanced by factors unrelated to race or ethnicity, these parents questioned whether the school’s administration had used race/ethnicity as part of the placement process and made a complaint to the Board of Education that the school’s administration had discriminated against a particular group of students.
In response to this serious complaint, the Board of Education asked the administration to conduct a review of Central’s class placement procedures and report the findings. In early November, the administration confirmed that Kindergarten students at Central were assigned to classrooms following district guidelines, which balance classes by gender, birthdate, daycare/nursery school attended, and special needs unrelated to race or ethnicity. On November 10, 2011, Central Principal Carol Priore and Superintendent Robert Shaps met with Kindergarten parents to respond to the initial complaint in an open forum and publicly reassure parents of the effort, care, and objective guidelines used to organize elementary classrooms in all our elementary schools.
In December of 2011, a parent formally filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s New York City Office of Civil Rights (OCR) about this issue. The District cooperated in the investigation –providing extensive documentation — and organized a series of interviews between OCR officials, Kindergarten teachers, Principal Priore, and district administration to describe our placement process in detail. In summarizing their findings, OCR found that our class placement guidelines are in fact race-neutral.
Typically, OCR also seeks to ensure that districts implement procedures in a consistent manner in compliance with federal law, and, in this case, OCR raised concerns about the consistent application of our placement procedures. Although we believe that the District application of its procedures was entirely proper, the District voluntarily entered into a resolution agreement with OCR to address OCR’s concerns that we “ensure that class assignment is based upon the consistent application of uniform criteria that does not have the effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race or national origin.” We continue to believe that our class placement procedures promote rich learning environments for all our students.
Moving forward, we will continue to maintain our existing policy of making class placement decisions without regard to race or ethnicity, assign students based upon the consistent application of our placement procedures, and ensure that our written procedures are clear to parents, teachers, and students. As a school district, we value the rich diversity of our community, families, and staff and believe it is what makes our school district special.
Dr. Robert I. Shaps
Superintendent of Schools
President, Board of Education
photo: Central School by Jacqueline Silberbush
Sometimes parents are afraid to speak up. When my daughter was in second grade at Central I complained because the teacher called her a name in front of the class and she was really upset . The superintendent at the time told me there were consequences for this . I asked her what the consequences were and if she was threatening me and she did not answer . I got off the phone with her and I called the American Civil Liberities Union and I was told that if there were any “consequences ” I should contact them .I told her this and my daughter was switched into another class.
To Anon Mom….Unless someone had a child in that class they’ll never realize the level of contempt one has for the administration. We all know who was bought off. We all have seen their beautiful orchestration of that PTA meeting in November and the recent meeting at the high school. The had shills present that basically sold their souls. Though I knew the makeup of the class when I saw the photo in the Journal news I broke down and cried. Deep down whether you agree or disagree you know it happened by no accident. Just some people just don’t have the guts to standup whether you had or didn’t have a child in that class…they’re afraid or just don’t give a sh..because their child wasn’t affected.. You I can’t blame. I wish you luck! They know if the picture were ever shown to a jury….it’s all over. 5 year old children….what kind of animal does that to a 5 year old child. There isn’t any excuse for it.
“We requested specific measures to help lessen the effect of the uneven distribution on our child”
I have a kid in K myself, and still haven’t heard anyone clearly state what ‘effect’ this distribution actually had.
So, while schools on the north end of town may be more diverse, our schools on the south end have up to 30% more kids in their K classes than you have. Maybe I should sue for discrimination against whites.
As a parent in the class, I was not informed about the Nov 10th meeting. I heard about it on the playground….just like I heard about everything in Middle School. (ha, but not really funny…). So, I did attend and was surprised when Dr. Shaps said there was an uneven distribution in my child’s classroom. I had silently wondered, but would never have had the nerve to ask. As I was trying to take this information in (while parents who didn’t have Kindergarteners where yelling insults at eachother) the administration asked “what do you want to do about it?”. How was I supposed to answer that question in the moment? And, isn’t that the job of the administration? They allow this distribution to happen, then ask us ‘what do you want to do about it?’ It felt like a dare…..I dare you to say you want the classes adjusted! They knew if they surprised us we would be deer in the headlights. Also, they should have had a moderator at that meeting. It was so ugly. What a mess. That was all I had to see to start looking at private schools. And my father was a public school teacher. I just find the whole thing so sad….. And I don’t appreciate anyone posting strong oppinions unless YOUR CHILD was in one of the two classes! If so, go for it.
Many more than two families complained. My husband and I met with the administration several times last year. We requested specific measures to help lessen the effect of the uneven distribution on our child. We were never very satisfied with the Administrations’ actions, but we did not choose take it to the government or courts. This does not mean we were ok with the situation AT ALL. We are now looking at private schools or another school district. My trust in MUSD is shot. Not a great first experience here….
Anonymous, it’s never a wise idea to piss ANY parents off!
And I speak as a Tiger Dad who’s gone into an IEP meeting with his lawyer at his side, when that seemed a wise precaution.
Unfortunately you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
Poor decisions are nothing new to Dr. Shaps. See:
“Should the district relook at their policy for placement so it does include race/ethnicity as a criteria? That’s the question that will now go before the policy board – and arriving at an answer will not be easy.”
In my opinion, it IS easy; it should not, as I’ve said before. No selection criteria should ever include race.
A set of classes with a very homogenous racial distribution may well not be ‘right’.
A set of classes with a very heterogeneous racial distribution may well not be ‘wrong’.
Race should simply not be a factor, period – and that goes for the parents as well as the district. Certainly no intentional segregation, equally no whining if a fair and educationally appropriate placement policy results, as a byproduct, in unintentional ‘segregation’ – or, more correctly, statistically uneven distribution.
It doesn’t *matter*.
I saw the meeting. Just not a wise idea to piss that parent off.
I can tell you the administration never asked the parents in the kindergarten class to vote on any issues about remedying the situation. They had ample time to make corrections or using a novel approach. But then again it just proves what their intentions were. Unfortunately, the parents should have taken the issue to federal court. The judge would have thrown the book at the administration!