The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights recently announced its plans to investigate the NAACP’s allegations that Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) discriminates against African-American children when disciplining students.
Last year, the Anne Arundel County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) claimed that African-American students were subject to disparate treatment and disproportionately suspended or expelled by AACPS. In 2004, the NAACP also filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, establishing a “mediated agreement” plan to close the achievement gap between African-American and white children in the county.
The Office of Civil Rights' decision to investigate the claims were announced recently, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Carl O. Snowden, director for civil rights in the state Office of the Attorney General, was involved in the 2004 complaint and told The Sun, “Eight years later, the numbers haven’t gone down. This particular new complaint … will hopefully provide some leadership around this issue.”
AACPS spokesman Bob Mosier agreed that the process hasn’t gone as quickly as Superintendent Kevin Maxwell would have liked.
“[Maxwell] has been very honest about the fact that while there’s been progress, it has not been good enough and at a pace that he and others would like,” Mosier told Patch. “It’s not an easy ship to right to be perfectly honest.”
Mosier said AACPS has been “looking very closely” at the claims ever since the NAACP first approached the school system, even before the Office of Civil Rights announced its own investigation.
“Over the last year or so we’ve really taken a close look and are still digging into discipline statistics and looking at what discipline was handed out and what were the factors involved,” Mosier said. “That’s what we’re trying to get at … not only the ‘what’ but the ‘why.’”
Anne Arundel NAACP President Jacqueline Boone Allsup told The Sun that she hopes the investigation establishes concrete programs to prevent discrimination in the future.
Mosier said the school system is still investigating and he expects to release findings later this year.