Do minority high school students in the city of Marietta get the same quality of education as their white counterparts? A federal complaint filed against the school district says "no."
A parent, a retired teacher and social justice advocates want the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to investigate what they say are policies which effectively widen an achievement gap between white and non-white students.
"Black students are the district's largest demographic group, yet only two black students in 2016 passed the ACT benchmark for college readiness in the STEM subjects," said retired Marietta High School teacher Ken Sprague Sr.
The complaint says the way the schools run their most challenging academic program, the International Baccalaureate, excludes minority students.
“If you go into the classroom, you’ll see two levels of expectations. A lower level [of expectations] are [found] in what are the segregated classrooms – wildly disproportionately, sometimes 100 percent black and brown. As opposed to the higher expectations in those classrooms that predominantly white. Both of those classrooms are called college prep,” said Sprague.
Attorney Craig Goodmark, who’s represented students in discrimination cases, said the statistics laid out in the complaint could potentially trigger a federal review. He said the complainants don’t have to prove that the discrimination is intentional.
“What you’re saying is that the racially neutral policies and practices of the school board are affecting people of color disproportionately,” said Goodmark.
The complaint also highlights the lack of representational diversity in both faculty and the district’s school board.
Marietta Schools faced public outrage this May after a decision to remove Marietta High School’s first black principal to an administrative position after less than one year on the job.
A statement from Marietta City Schools says it does not discriminate on the basis of race or any other classification.