A black Atlanta mother has filed a federal lawsuit against a black principal and public school after her daughter and other students were separated by race and then taught in separate classrooms.
Kila Posey filed her complaint against Mary Lin Elementary School in which she said Principal Sharyn Briscoe informed her that she instituted the segregated classroom concept because she felt that would be best for students.
Posey, who is vice president of operations for the local Parent Teachers Association (PTA) said she first learned about the segregated classrooms when she called Briscoe to request that her daughter be placed in a certain classroom with a specific teacher. Briscoe responded by informing Posey that wouldn’t work out because that teacher’s classroom was not one that had been established for black students.
“[The principal] said that’s not one of the black classes, and I immediately said, ‘What does that mean?’ I was confused,” Posey recalled.
“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 continued.
“We’ve lost sleep like trying to figure out why would a person do this,” Posey said in an interview with WSB-TV, a local station, after discovering what was going on last year.
“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 told the station. “It’s segregating classrooms. You cannot segregate classrooms. You can’t do it.”
The mother and her attorney, Sharese Shields, think that Briscoe has violated Title VI of the 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 told the local station.
Posey said she insisted that her daughter be placed into a classroom that also had white students.
“I explained to [Briscoe] she shouldn’t be isolated or punished because I’m unwilling to go along with your illegal and unethical practice,” Posey added.
Posey went on to confidentially record a phone call with an unnamed assistant principal who explained that the decision to segregate was up to Briscoe and who said at another point, “I just wish we had more black kids, and then some of them are in a class because of the services that they need.”
In a statement, Atlanta Public Schools officials said that the issue had been addressed but did not offer specifics.
“Atlanta public schools does not condone the assigning of students to classrooms based on race. The district conducted a review of the allegations. Appropriate actions were taken to address the issue and the matter was closed,” said a statement to WSB-TV.
But that isn’t good enough for Posey. She says she wants Briscoe and her fellow serving administrators removed from their positions for implementing segregated classrooms in the first place.
“My community, had they known about this, would probably be extremely upset. Not just the Black parents but also white parents,” she told WSB-TV.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is currently looking into the case, reports added.
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