An Atlanta mom filed a federal complaint against her daughter’s Atlanta elementary school after she learned that the school was separating students on the basis of race.
In the discrimination complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, parent Kila Posey claims the principal at Mary Lin Elementary School, a K-5 school in the Atlanta Public Schools system, put a segregation policy in place because she thought it was best for all students.
“We’ve lost sleep like trying to figure out why would a person do this,” Posey told local TV news station WSB. Posey and her attorney Sharese Shields believe the policy is a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Posey found out last year that the elementary school would be putting Black students in two different classrooms with two different teachers and white students into six classrooms with six different teachers.
Posey protested the policy when it was allegedly put into place by Principal Sharyn Briscoe 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 said. “It’s segregating classrooms. You cannot segregate classrooms. You can’t do it.”
Posey, who is vice president of operations for the parent teacher association, according to the school website, first learned of the separation after she contacted Briscoe to request that her daughter be placed in a specific classroom with a certain teacher. Briscoe replied by saying that would not work because the teacher’s classroom wasn’t for Black students, Posey claims.
“She said that’s not one of the Black classes, and I immediately said, ‘What does that mean?’ I was confused. 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 said.
According to Shields, “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.”
Posey pushed for her daughter not to be placed in a segregated classroom. “I explained to her she shouldn’t be isolated or punished because I’m unwilling to go along with your illegal and unethical practice,” Posey said.
In a recorded phone call between Posey and an assistant principal, the administrator confirmed that it was the principal’s idea to separate the students.
“I just wish we had more Black kids, and then some of them are in a class because of the services that they need,” the administrator said.
The district told WSB-TV in a statement, “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.”
Posey wants Briscoe and the administrators to be removed for allowing the system of segregation to be in place.
The US Department of Education is currently investigating the issue.