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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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Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Please define a statistical anomaly as it relates to what occurred at the Central Elementary School.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

“Equal education it was not.”

If you define equal education as simplistically as having x number of every color in the class, no it was not.

If, however, you define it as something greater and better, than yes it was absolutely an equal education.

The bottom line is that the school district stated that it does NOT consider race in class placement. And, on their response on the district website to this whole three-ring circus (started by a failing paper desperate for a scoop) they again stated that they have no plans to start using race.

In so doing, especially in a district with so many minorities, you will end up with statistical anomolies from time to time. But one or two classes do not make a pattern. For all of the screaming done by a small number of mostly non-parents, there are a ton of us with kids in the schools that know that this district is anything but discriminatory.

Mike Ross
Mike Ross
7 years ago

People are banging on about black and white, yearbook photos… would someone please explain the problem to me?

IF a selection process (any selection process, let’s not restrict this to this class or this school or education generally – ANY selection process) is truly colourblind, and produces a result that is correct and fair based on all *relevant* criteria, BUT a result that is also in some way or by some measure racially unbalanced, is there a problem? Does something need to be ‘fixed’?

That’s as simple a yes/no question as you can get in this debate.

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re arguing against colourblindness and in favour of racism and quotas, and you and I have nothing further to say to each other…

I’m not interested in the colour of the skin of the kids in the yearbook photo, I’m only interested in knowing if they were in the ‘right’ class for their educational needs. NOTHING else matters, whether the result is statistical complete uniformity, or significant racial segregation.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

You someone to explain the OCR report to you. Your missing the point. Equal education it was not. I have shown the class picture to many many people….all with the same reaction. Their jaws hang in amazement. This was not the difference between white and off white or black and gray. This was the difference between night and day or black and white. Shame on you for even thinking it was acceptable. I also implore you to view the other grades, especially the 5th grade. I saw the 2011-2012. The teachers are foolish for covering for the Principal. My wife is an ex-teacher at Central. Never lie to a federal investigator! It’s a crime.

DM
DM
7 years ago

I didn’t say that at all. We should be race neutral – which is what the school was and look where it got them. I don’t want my child’s placement dependent on her skin color, I want it dependent on where she will do her best learning (and I never said anything about her level of achievement as a criteria). I could care less what the rest of the kids look like, how smart/struggling the kid next to mine is or what the first language of the teacher is. I don’t want white and non-white kids counted based on their appearance and I sure as hell don’t want my kid’s class picture held up as an example of something “bad” and distasteful. That class was a wonderful group of kids and families and to imply there was something wrong with it is disgraceful. I sat at the meeting – I heard what the criteria was directly from the people involved including the teachers. I believe them. I have no reason not to as the kids had a great year and received equally good instruction and had the same great experiences as the other kindergarten classes. As someone else stated in another post, there are four kindergarten teachers – 2 are white, one is Hispanic and one is African American. Not buying for a minute that they sat around and intentionally placed more non-white children into one class. Did it turn out that one did have what appeared to be more non-white kids? Okay, I’ll bite and play the “let’s base a kids race/ethnicity on what they look like game” and say yes. So, maybe they were guilty of not considering race. I think some call that being “race neutral”. So, they’re being told they better not make that mistake again. Which will come with a price – but I’ve already discussed that in my previous post.

Steve Springer
Steve Springer
7 years ago

If your stating we shouldn’t use race-neutral criteria and use intelligence instead I think it best you not send your child for a public school education but a private school would be a better choice to suit your phobias. We live in a democracy and there are laws to uphold.

DM
DM
7 years ago

Oh, and Anon E Mous…your statement of …”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.”
The yearbooks are not available for just anyone to buy – they aren’t advertised for public purchase but are sold only to families in the school. And the important point you don’t mention about the website photos is that the district has acquired permission to post pics of those students. Parents have to sign a form at the beginning of year allowing photos of their child to be published. That’s why you don’t hear families complaining – because obviously, they’ve given that permission. Did Ms. Jimenez allow the same courtesy to the families of those five year olds when she held up photos and names of all those children for the world to see?
And please stop making assumptions about income status based on the fact that people live in apartments.

DM
DM
7 years ago

Are any of the posters here non-white? If so, I’d like to make sure that you’re going to be available to come and help me explain this all to my child when she isn’t matched with the best teacher/class to meet her needs because well, that class already has its quota of non-whites. Because that’s what all of this going to result in. Now, instead of the staff thinking about what my child’s academic needs are and how best to meet them, they’ll have to first count how many minorities are already in the class they’re considering for her.
For those of us who are directly effected by this at the school there are reasons that we’re not all clamoring to support this woman with her agenda. Thought about that? Thought about the fact that maybe we don’t want our kids’ skin color to be a factor in what class they are placed in? My guess is that most if not all of you who are screaming, “Segregation; Discrimination; Intent;” are white liberals who need to step back and realize that you’re fighting a fight that many of us aren’t asking you to. I understand the criteria they used for placement because I heard it explained firsthand. The class wound up with more non-whites because 1. They didn’t have racial/ethnic information on many of the students when the classes were formed 2. Even when it is available it is self-reported by parents, so let’s think about the validity of the info. 3. Many parents choose not to reveal that info on the form which is their right 4. Unlike Ms. Jimenez and her friend who happily got her transer to Chatsworth, the staff does not make assumptions/judgements about race and ethnicity based on a last name…and last but not least, they do not use it as criteria for placement anyway.
But of course, now they will have to and I won’t repeat myself as to why I don’t appreciate it. And have any of you thought about the implications for class size? It’s been past practice, that as new students are enrolled once classes are formed or the year has begun, the new student is placed in the class with the smallest register – because there’s all that good research about how class size impacts learning… Well, I guess that will get thrown out now as well. Sorry Michael’s mom, you’ll have to go into the class of 25 students even though another class has less students because you’re the wrong color and will throw off the balance.
Again, thanks.

Blackandwhite
Blackandwhite
7 years ago

Well Said Anon! Do we want the Superintendent Dr. Shaps, the Central School Principal Priore, the School Board, and teachers that have lied and deceived Federal Invesigators and lets not forget the community of Larchmont/Mamaroneck, to be role models for our children. Do we want our children to grow up and think segregation is OK and that it is OK to violate Civil Rights statutes and it is OK to lie…I think not! Go get a 2011-2012 Central School Yearbook and take a look at the other grades I did as someone suggested. It doesn’t matter if you feel good things were done at Central. Criminals do good things too.

xanthe
xanthe
7 years ago

What do our administrators get paid for ? I thought it was oversight and supervision. I guess no one thought it was their job to correct the “statistical anomaly”. Also I wonder how the children in the other classes perceived this class. When my daughter was in kindergarten she went with her dance class to a nursing home . She told my mother there were mostly grandmas and and hardly any grandpas. Children process their environment and try to make sense of it

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