A federal complaint has been filed against an elementary school in Atlanta over allegations it segregated Black and White students during classes. The complaint was filed by the mother of a Black student after she got to know about the alleged arrangement.
In an interview with WSB-TV, the parent, Kila Posey, said she became aware of the segregation arrangement at the Mary Lin Elementary School last year when she was unsuccessful in having her child assigned to the classroom of a teacher she preferred. Posey said the arrangement was introduced by the school’s principal on the grounds that she felt it was in the best interest of the students.
“We’ve lost sleep like trying to figure out why would a person do this,” Posey said about principal Sharyn Briscoe’s actions.
“First, it was just disbelief that I was having this conversation in 2020 with a person that looks just like me — a Black woman,” Posey added. “It’s segregating classrooms. You cannot segregate classrooms. You can’t do it.”
Posey said she learned the Black students in the school were put in two different classes and assigned two separate teachers, while the White students were also split and put in six classes with six separate teachers. And because of that arrangement, Posey said Briscoe informed her that her child could not be placed in the class she had requested.
“She said that’s not one of the Black classes, and I immediately said, ‘What does that mean?’ I was confused. I asked for more clarification. I was like, ‘We have those in the school?’ And she proceeded to say, ‘Yes. I have decided that I’m going to place all of the Black students in two classes,’” Posey recalled.
After learning about the separation of the students by race, Posey said she told Briscoe she wanted her child to be placed in an integrated class, but she said the principal informed her that request would rather result in her child being isolated. “I explained to her she shouldn’t be isolated or punished because I’m unwilling to go along with your illegal and unethical practice,” Posey said.
In an effort to seek more clarification and also register their displeasure with the arrangement, the Poseys had a phone conversation with the school’s assistant principal who also told them the policy had been enforced by Briscoe, WSB-TV reported. In the conversation that was recorded by the parents, the assistant principal also reportedly appeared to explain why the classes had been separated according to race.
“I just wish we had more Black kids, and then some of them are in a class because of the services that they need,” the administrator was recorded saying.
Responding to the allegations in a statement to the news outlet, the Atlanta Public Schools said they had investigated the matter and taken the necessary actions although those actions weren’t disclosed. “Atlanta public schools does not condone the assigning of students to classrooms based on race,” the statement said. “The district conducted a review of the allegations. Appropriate actions were taken to address the issue and the matter was closed.”
But Posey said she wants Briscoe and her administration relieved of their duties. Posey’s attorney, Sharese Shields, also stressed the school’s actions contravened the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that you cannot treat one group of people differently based upon race, and that is what is going on at Mary Lin,” Shields said.
The Department of Education is yet to complete its investigations into the complaint.