Monday, September 06, 2010

School's race rule prompts mom to pull kids out

August 27, 2010
Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A policy intended to achieve racial equality at a north Mississippi school has long meant that only white kids can run for some class offices one year, black kids the next. But Brandy Springer, a mother of four mixed race children, was stunned when she moved to the area from Florida and learned her 12-year-old daughter couldn't run for class reporter because she wasn't the right race.

The rules sparked an outcry on blogs and other websites after Springer contacted an advocacy group for mixed-race families. The NAACP called for a Justice Department investigation _ not surprising in a state with a history of racial tension dating to the Jim Crow era.

By Friday afternoon, the Nettleton School District announced on its website that it would no longer use race in school elections.

Superintendent Russell Taylor posted a statement saying the practice had been in place for 30 years, dating back to a time when school districts across Mississippi came under close scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department over desegregation.

"It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body," the statement said. "It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed."

Springer, who moved to Lee County from Florida in April, said her daughter was told the office of sixth-grade class reporter at Nettleton Middle School was available only to black students this year.

Her anger grew when she saw school election guidelines that allowed only whites to run for class president this year. In alternating years, the positions would be reversed so blacks could run for president and whites could hold other positions, district officials said.

Even if the rule is an attempt to ensure black and white participation, Springer said diversity is no longer a black and white issue, with a growing number of mixed-race children, Hispanics and other ethnicities attending school together.

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