Federal investigators begin civil rights probe into alleged discrimination in Southlake ISD

U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas Joe D. Gonzales announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas has begun a civil rights investigation into the Southlake Independent School District. Gonzales made the…

Federal investigators begin civil rights probe into alleged discrimination in Southlake ISD

U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas Joe D. Gonzales announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas has begun a civil rights investigation into the Southlake Independent School District. Gonzales made the announcement at a press conference in nearby Mansfield on Friday, according to ABC-affiliate KTVT. The investigation will focus on whether policies and practices of the school district, which has struggled for the past few years with low graduation rates and discipline problems, were discriminatory.

Gonzales said that the investigation is not specifically focused on the McKinney school district, where white students did not use a private pool that students of color did because of fears of violence. Rather, it centers on the schools of Southlake ISD. He noted that the schools were “up and coming,” but added that administrators at the time were not listening to minority students about “school climate issues” that they felt were threatening to their safety.

Federal authorities first learned of the investigation on Thursday, reports Dallas News. The federal team interviewed students of color, parents and staff members. They also questioned, in front of police officers, a former principal at Bama Lane Elementary School, who was removed from the school and reassigned to a lesser post at the district central office in August. He told reporters that he believed it was retaliation for being “white, middle-class and progressive,” per Dallas News.

According to the district’s website, its headmaster and assistant principals at Bama Lane are all white. The statement also says that the district is “aware of racial disparities and bias” and is working to eliminate the problems through training for administrators, improved staff diversity and support for teachers and students who need help.

Like McKinney, the district is a small one, with only about 10,000 students enrolled. Students of color are less than 24 percent of the enrollment and 26 percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty.

Read the full story at KTVT.

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