Parents Accuse Upper Dublin School District of Racial Discrimination

A group of parents of students at Upper Dublin schools are accusing the district of racial discrimination.

In a complaint to the U.S. Department of Education, the group claims that the Upper Dublin school district suspended a disproportionate number of African American students. They also say the District disproportionately placed black students in lower level curricular programs.

The complaint states that while only 7.3% of students in the Upper Dublin School District were black, nearly 45% of out-of-school suspensions were issued to black students during the 2014-2015 school year. The complaint also says black students received a disproportionately high percentage of total out-of-school suspensions with 48% in 2013-2014 and 63% in 2012-2013.

“The district’s policies have serious, immediate consequences for our children,” said Dawn Kelley, a member of Concerned African American Parents (CAAP). “Higher suspension rates are putting black students at a severe disadvantage when it comes to college and career prospects.”

CAAP also accused the District of placing few black students into gifted programming, claiming no black students were in gifted education in any of the districts four elementary schools in 2014-2015 or the middle school.

CAAP also mentioned an African American student who they claim had an A in his 8th grade social studies class but was still not recommended for an honors-level ninth grade history class. When challenged by the boy’s parents, the teacher allegedly claimed he based his decision on one test in which the student received a B. CAAP says the District finally allowed the student to enter honors-level history after several requests from his parents. CAAP also says the student did well in the honors class and is currently in an Advanced Placement history class.

“The district’s practices reflect a national trend of excluding African American kids from higher level courses and feeding them into lower level or even special education classes,” said Sonja Kerr, attorney with the Public Interest Law Center, which is representing CAAP. “We’re asking the Department of Education to examine this trend in Upper Dublin.”

CAAP requested the U.S. Department of Education launch a full investigation of the Upper Dublin School District which they feel would “reveal the disparities in starker terms.”

“CAAP is asking the Department to perform compliance reviews of the district’s disciplinary proceedings, force the district to eliminate reliance on harsh out-of-school suspension practices, abolish the curricular tracking process, and require other corrective action as warranted by the investigation,” a spokesperson for the Public Interest Law Center wrote.

A spokeswoman for the Upper Dublin School District released the following statement to NBC10 Monday night in regards to the complaint:

The School District of Upper Dublin has been advised of a complaint filed against the District by the Concerned African American Parents. The District’s Solicitor received the document filed by the group at 4:00 P.M. this evening, and it was delivered to the District administration. The document is lengthy and we plan to review it thoroughly and carefully. Following this review we will issue a response.

The School District’s mission is to provide a safe, supportive environment for all students to become lifelong learners and contributing members of a changing society. To this end, the District is fully committed to providing excellence and equity in education to all students.

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