Tuesday, February 23, 2016

ACLU thanks school district for response to Maumelle High 'blacks-only' assembly, asks for diversity training

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 4:26 PM

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The ACLU of Arkansas replied today to the Pulaski County Special School District's contrite letter last week concerning an incident in which a Maumelle High School administrator evidently arranged an assembly about gang violence solely for African American students.

The ACLU thanked PCSSD attorney Whitney Moore for "the refreshingly frank response" on Friday, in which Moore admitted "you are right, we were wrong, and we won't do it again."*

Moore's letter said the Maumelle administrator had had the best of intentions but "erred." The assembly was a misguided attempt to comply with district's desegregation order, which "requires PCSSD to create special programs designed to reduce disparate impact between black and white students in application of discipline," she wrote.

However, the ACLU also suggested that district officials consider diversity training for staff, and that it reach out to parents to promote their involvement in the special programs mandated under the ongoing desegregation order:

We respect and appreciate district officials' efforts to provide equal educational opportunity for all students. In light of your response, we respectfully request that the district provide diversity and cultural training for officials and staff involved with these special programs. Such training can prevent future problems and capitalize on the good intent behind special programs by helping the district reach real solutions. Please consider and let us know if you will provide this training.

Many parents have told us that they were not aware of the district's special programs or their purpose until recent news about the assembly. Since they wish to know about and be involved with the district's efforts, we encourage the school and the district to capitalize on this opportunity to include parents and the community in achieving the district's goals.

We are happy to discuss training or any other matter that might help the district. Please be in touch. 

Respectfully,

Holly Dickson

Here's the ACLU's letter.
*Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly quoted the letter from the PCSSD attorney as saying "we are right, you were wrong ..." That was, of course, exactly the opposite of the sentiment expressed in the actual quote. Sorry! I was wrong, and I won't do it again.

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