Officials from Sampson County Schools are preparing for a civil rights audit from the North Carolina Department of Instruction.
Ginger Stone, director of career and technical education (CTE), provided an overview to the Sampson Board of Education during a recent meeting. SCS was selected based on comparing total enrollment and students taking CTE courses. The purpose is to find disproportionate numbers in several areas using a ranking system. Some of them include race/ethnicity, gender, disability, total enrollment, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Stone reported that six are conducted a year and the districts with the highest score are selected.
“Sampson County fell in those areas this year,” Stone said to the board.
Stone reported that a high school is neither good nor bad, but one the areas flagged for Sampson County was LEP.
“It said we had a high number of LEP students in our CTE classes,” she said. “So it appears to DPI that we’re dumping into the CTE classes LEP students.”
But she alluded to how the students are asking for the classes based on registration materials. Stone was told that it shouldn’t be an issue, if proof is provided.
After Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy was notified in July, training with a coordinator from the state’s Department of Instruction followed in September. The process involved the Central Office Team, principals of schools, and counselors.
“We’re in the process of collecting data for the review,” Stone said.
During the meeting, it was also noted that students from other countries receive credit for courses taken before they came to Sampson County. This gives them more time to take CTE classes, if they request them.
A review is scheduled for early November and will include interviews with faculty, administrators and students. Selected classes and three high schools will also be visited as well. If they find any compliance violations, the district is required to submit a plan to fix the problem.
According to a document by Public Schools of North Carolina, the most common problems involve bathroom, handicap access, parking and signage. Board Chair Tim Register said those are several issues such as van accessible parking, came to mind when reading documents. Mark Hammond, director of plant operations, said the district is in compliance in a lot of facilities, but there’s still more work to do.
Board member Telfair Simpson added that state officials are not looking to punish the district, but to make sure everything is up-to-date.
The civil rights issues with schools began in the early 1970s when advocacy groups such as the Legal Defense Fund and the NAACP sued the United States Department of Education on behalf of a plaintiff, who said the federal government was not enforcing federal civil rights education.
As a result, the Federal District Court of Washington, D.C. settled the case by establishing a order in 1977, which required the Federal Office for Civil Rights (part of the U.S. Department of Education) to prepare Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services on the Basis of Race, Color, National Origin, Sex and Handicap in Career and Technical Education programs. States are required to develop a plan to make sure the guidelines are followed.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.