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Group alleging racial imbalances sues Johnston County Schools for records

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5bWe’ve reported in the past on a group organizing to combat what they call increasing segregation in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Now, before the weekend break, we received a fascinating snapshot of a similar debate over alleged racial imbalances in school demographics in rural Johnston County. 

According to Friday’s News & Observer:

A group pushing for academic improvement in Smithfield-Selma schools is suing the Johnston County school system for access to records.

In a complaint filed Thursday in Johnston Superior Court, Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools says the school system hasn’t turned over demographic information requested nearly nine months ago. The group, formed in 2012 as the Citizens’ Study Commission, says it needs that information to understand the racial imbalance in Smithfield-Selma schools.

The group says it first requested that information and other data on May 29. The school system provided some information five months later, but the demographic information was missing, the complaint states.

The Concerned Citizens for Successful Schools requested the demographic information again on Dec. 2, according to the complaint. On Jan. 15, the group received a response from the school system’s public information officer, Tracey Peedin Jones, who said only that the request was “being reviewed,” the complaint states.

The group says it has received no further response from the schools, prompting its civil complaint.

“Data gathering has been crucial to understanding why an imbalance of poor and non-white students continues to grow within the Johnston County schools,” the group said in a news release announcing the civil complaint.

The group is also asking how the local school board “uses racial and socioeconomic demographics to assign students to attendance areas and … what incentives, recruitment or teacher-transfer programs are in place to address teacher turnover in the Smithfield and Selma area schools.”

The UNC Center for Civil Rights is reportedly working with the group on its case.

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