In a recent article, the Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a racial discrimination in schools complaint with the United States Department of Justice regarding the civil rights violations of Black students. The several cited incidents indicate that the school district has relegated teacher’s classroom power to the local police. The school district will have to eliminate the racial discrimination in schools by empowering teachers to transform the perception that students have regarding the Jefferson Parish School District.

According to the article, the Jefferson Parish School district has contracted with local enforcement which includes stationing police officers in middle and high schools. The police officers have the authority to stop, frisk, detain, question, search, and arrest students on and off school grounds. The excessive power delegated to local police has resulted in several incidents. In one incident, an eighth grade student was arrested for allegedly throwing Skittles at another student on a bus. This male student was charged with simple battery as well as hand cuffed in front of other students. As this student cried out after the officer twisted the students arm, the officer responded by stating that he was going to charge the student with resisting arrest too.

In another incident, a 10-year-old Black students who is diagnosed with autism was handcuffed while face down and an officers knee to her back. The incident began when the girl had an outburst in the classroom and began running around the room, jumping on desks, and knocking down chairs. Upon arrival of the grandmother, the girl was found with her face so close to the ground, that the girl had difficulty breathing.

In another incident, a seventh-grade student became upset with her mother and school officials during a conference. After the argument with her mother, she was handcuffed and charged with “interference with an educational facility”.

The Southern Poverty Law Center complaint surmises that the results of the racial discrimination against Black students are victimized is derived from a violation of their Title VI and VI Civil Rights. The violations have resulted in 80 percent of the school district arrests involving Black students while they only account for 41.5 percent of the student population.

Why has the Jefferson Parish School District covered up their inability to educate Black children which has resulted in racial discrimination in schools?

The cultural mismatch between students and school is the reason for student academic failure. The attempt at minority student Americanization that involves fixing culturally flawed children by changing their values and language has failed at increasing minority student achievement. The main reason for low minority student achievement in the United States is racism creates a poverty cycle that minority students are unable to break. Student academic achievement decreases when the difference between the student’s culture and the school culture increases and the classroom environment does not value the student’s home culture. When an educational cultural match is not possible, there must be at least respect and value of the culture that children bring with them. When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. The main reason that previous attempts of educational reform have been unsuccessful is that the relationships between teachers and students and between schools and Black communities have remained unchanged because schools have little concern for the importance of relationships between teachers and students.

Since slavery, Blacks have learned that the way to get is not through merit and talent but through white patronage. Blacks are forced to adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language. Therefore Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges’ people by their skin color or ethnic background. Blacks who live in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin ensure they do not become victims by approaching people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust.

Distrust between schools and Blacks results from hostile treatment of Blacks and discrimination in schools. Employment discrimination is the primary source of Black student opposition to schooling. Many Black students feel that they are not being educated to live in a racially and culturally diverse society. Blacks believe schools ineffectively prepare Black children with the same skills that enable White middle-class persons to attain good jobs and wages. Black children learn at an early age to be wary of people and systems in their environment.

Schools encompass cultural expectations that present challenges for Black students. Schools and Black student conflict result from expectation differences. The Jefferson Parish School District has exhibited these expectation differences by hiring local police to educate Black students instead of doing the job that tax payers pay them to accomplish.

How can the Jefferson Parish School District eliminate racial discrimination in schools against Black students?

The first step that the Jefferson Parish School District must take is to empower teachers to educate Black students instead of empowering police officers to educate students by intimidation.

The second step is to empower teachers to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships which will result in the elimination of racial discrimination in schools against Black students.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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