Parent files suit against school that separated students based on race

An Atlanta mother filed a federal complaint against her daughter’s elementary school after learning the principal approved a measure to separate black and white students into different classrooms.

“We’ve lost sleep like trying to figure out why would a person do this,” said mother, Kila Posey about the principal’s decision. Posey and her attorney Sharese Shields believe the policy violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Posey, who is black, discovered the segregation policy last year after requesting her child have a specific teacher at Mary Lin Elementary School in Atlanta. Principal Sharyn Briscoe informed her that black students were segregated into two separate classrooms with two separate teachers. In comparison, white students were separated into six different classrooms with six different teachers. The teacher Posey requested for her child was designated for the white students.

“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.”

“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.

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“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,” according to Sheilds.

Posey, vice president of operations for the parent teacher association, demanded that her daughter not 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,” she said.

In a recorded phone call, the administration admitted it was the principal’s idea to segregate the students based on race.

“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.

“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,” the district said in a statement.

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Posey wants the administrators removed from their positions for allowing segregation to take place.

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating the issue.