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Home Towns Larchmont *Read Your 100+ Comments*---Was Central School Cleared of Race-Based Placement?

*Read Your 100+ Comments*—Was Central School Cleared of Race-Based Placement?

Mamaroneck–

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.

previous story:

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.

Sincerely,

Dr. Robert I. Shaps
Superintendent of Schools

Nancy Pierson
President, Board of Education

 

photo: Central School by Jacqueline Silberbush

151 COMMENTS

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Anon E Mous
Anon E Mous
7 years ago

Agreed. The segregation may have ended up as race, but I find that we also segregate according to income. All of these kids seem to live in “rental apartments.” This is all about “we vs them.” Where does it start? I believe in the homes, in our country clubs, synagogues, churches and social situation where we don’t want our kids to socialize with each other. We are a community known to separate and now got caught by OCR in segregating.

Anon E Mous
Anon E Mous
7 years ago

Please, give me a break! It was segregation and segregation is not in the best interest of anyone.

Anon E Mous
Anon E Mous
7 years ago

Mike, personally I didn’t see anythng wrong with showing class photos. It is published in a book that can be bought and viewed by anyone. The Mamaroneck School District has published photos of our students on their website, and no one is complaining.

Anon E Mous
Anon E Mous
7 years ago

Thank you so much for your insightful remarks. I am so ashamed of our district for violating our children’s Civil Rights and insulting behavior. Dr. Shap in his video looked like a cartoon character. He insults our intelligence. Get rid of him.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

helpful/constructive post and/or thinking…NOT

JT
JT
7 years ago

Intent can be proven. Ignorance is no defense in the eyes of the law. Priore was an expert! She obviously knew the result of her class placement actions. Its her job to. She thought she was above the law and could get away with it. She got caught. My neighbor had last terms yearbook. The problem was not just limited to kindergarten. Guilty as charged!

JSacks
JSacks
7 years ago

Today’s anonymous post is spot on…

Will this make Race a primary criteria in class selection?

There are at least three separate issues here:

1. How did the district handle this situation and was it appropriate:
a) Was this parents concerns and the child’s needs properly addressed (putting the child first)?
b) Was the handling of notification to the community adequate and appropriate.
c) Was the districts process of review of this situation consistent, fair and objective?

2. Was the school district Policy adhered to during the placement process:
a) OCR says there was no intent to discriminate, but the end result of the current selection process ended up in a biased class. Is that acceptable to both the district and to the community?
b) In an attempt to use one criteria over another (i.e. parent requests) was it appropriate to negate age of child as a criteria (sic: OCR Finding)?

3. And the broader issue “Should race be a factor in class selection?”:
a) How can the district stay both race neutral and incorporate race?
b) If criteria factors to be considered are Gender, Age, Attendance in Pre K, Special Needs, where does race fit in? 1st, 2nd, 3rd,….?
c) Why does race matter? Why can there not be a racially imbalanced class? Should it not be the job of the school system to place children in the most “appropriate” class to foster maximum learning?

Staying focused on these issues and creating a healthy debate with all of the facts having been disclosed is the only way to create the best situation for our children. There are quite a few facts that this writer is aware of that have yet to come to light that should be disclosed in the proper forum.

As a person close to school operations, as member of many school committees, an involved PTA member and a parent of two children in the district, I firmly believe (and confirmed by the OCR report) that there was never an attempt to segregate or discriminate and that the best interest of the children was always taken into account.

However, I do believe that there are issues that need addressed:

1. The current complaint/resolution needs to be put to bed. The determination that OCR will monitor the district for 2 years and during that time the district will better define the policy that is both acceptable to the community as well as meet all the criteria specified by the DOE should be accepted as adequate.
2. This episode highlights a problem between the district and from my experience many members of the Hispanic community. A lack of trust and a sense of the district not giving Hispanics their fair share of resources.

Both of these should issues need to be openly explored and debated in a constructive way. Threats and intimidation on either side will only be counterproductive.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

As a result of this mess, here is my vision of what is most likely to happen: Children are placed in classes for their optimal learning experience. Classes are then reviewed for head count by race. Childen are moved out of optimal learning experience so that race is “evenly distributed” regardless of other factors. Hence classroom selection is going to be BASED ON RACE.

xanthe
xanthe
7 years ago

yes or special ed placement and tracking in the high school.

anon
anon
7 years ago

would be interesting if they did the same type of inquiry into the current hommocks 8th grade team structure…..

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