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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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xanthe
xanthe
7 years ago

I am a formet central school parent and my daughter had Donna Russell . My kids years at Cental were great. OCR found that there was discrimination and intent is not what their decisions are soley based on.

Neighbor
Neighbor
7 years ago

Well said, JRC, on 9/18. A quick review of blog comments here and at the Patch reveals that most of the negative comments come from people without Central experience. Many of the parents with Central experience (like me) believe that the admin and teachers were trying to form the best learning environment for all of the incoming kids.

xanthe
xanthe
7 years ago

It does not matter what the intent was the end result is the problem. The result of unintentional acts are sometimes wrong/hurtful. A person’s rights can be violated unintentionally. This could have been rectified by the principal and/or the superintendent when the matter was brought to their attention . Their dismissive self righteous behavior is also a big factor .

ABC
ABC
7 years ago

I saw a story or post that said the parents have Norman Siegel as an attorney and are going to sue the district for 15 million dollars.

Rights
Rights
7 years ago

You need to look at the facts of the case against central. It’s not what u think or don’t think…look at the objective findings. I’ve read that the parents are looking for a more comprehensive OCR and DOJ investigation. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this story.

JRC
JRC
7 years ago

There seems to be some real gaps here in understanding the placement process. Many of you seem to think that the principal forms the classes – not so. It was explained to us at a meeting last year at Central that the teachers make the classes using the criteria that was described at the same meeting and repeated in the report. The administration comes into the picture late in the process to look over the lists and if necessary, suggest changes based on criteria that the teachers may not be privvy to (i.e. parent info shared with admin about peers, prior experience with one of the teachers, etc.) Given that of the 4 kindergarten teachers two are white and two are non-white, I find it hard to believe that they sat around and purposely said, “Let’s put as many non-white kids in one class as possible”. It not only doesn’t make any sense to do that, but more importantly, given what many of us know about the character of the teachers and the administration, we KNOW this didn’t/couldn’t happen. Did it turn out that there were more non-white students in that class? Apparently, yes – but as they have explained over and over again, it was not intentional as race/ethnicity is not a criteria they consider for placement. Perhaps this is why other parents haven’t backed the ones who are making all the fuss? Because they trust what they know about the individuals involved unlike many of the negative posters here.
It’s a shame that in this day and age, we jump to assume the worst about people and their intentions. However, I can say from a long history of being involved with Central as a parent of 3, that I’m going to assume the best in this situation because the explanation makes sense to me; I know the people involved and that they are fiercely devoted to kids and have their best interests at heart; and I know they are human – and in hindsight even if they would have done things differently, they didn’t do anything to intentionally hurt children or to create this situation with malintent. Had they purposely created race dominant classes, it would be a civil rights issue. However, since it was not intentional, it’s not.

jjinla
jjinla
7 years ago

Hey, I’d dismiss Shaps just for the 6-day specials schedule, but that is another issue entirely! ;)

Why is this Shaps’ fault, though? Did anyone find that he was aware of this? We are at another school, and they absolutely are not doing this, so why Central? There had to have been a reason, I wish they would just come clean and move on past all of the speculation. If the principal had ill intentions, dismiss her, not him.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

When my special needs child approached grade k, his wonderful speech teacher gave me words of wisdom tht i will never forget and always look for to ensure the best education for my kids. “You dont want your kids to be at the TOP of the class…this can tend to foster boredom and complaceny. You dont want them to be at the BOTTOM of the class because that can crush confidence and self esteem. Being somewhere in the middle gives them ability to strive harder, be prouder of acheivements and also teach them empathy and helpfulness to their peers.”. There is a reason that our district is top rated…they structure the classes so that as many kids as possible are in that middle zone. It tends to even out after grade k, after those k-kids who come to school from day care not knowing ABCs, not being readers yet get that basic foundation. Placing kids based on their race rather than where they could do best will only serve to disrupt and shrink that middle zone. i thought a couple of times thqt i knew better thqn the school and made a teacher request which was denied. turns out that the teacher i thought would not be best for my kid was actually the best he ever had.

Rights
Rights
7 years ago

Case closed!…the question remains how wide spread was the discrimination? We should be asking for the dismissal of those responsible and those that condoned the discrimination! Shaps has a history of creating problems in school districts! His path of destruction runs from New Hampshire into Westchester County.

xanthe
xanthe
7 years ago

In the Journal News article today on page3A I quote this response to a followup questions by the newspaper. “the Department of Civil Rights spelled out the allegations emphatically” Their response was “According to our office for Civil Rights, yes .we found discrimination had occurred” a spokesman said via email.

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