Black students in SD County face exclusionary practices

Activists and parents ask DOJ to investigate.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif .– Local activists say black students in San Diego County schools face historic exclusionary practices. They are asking the Department of Justice to intervene and investigate.

An announcement was made by several groups denouncing what they call injustices in the San Diego County education system at the Longfellow Spanish Immersion School.

They also say they are using lawyers to help them mount a class action lawsuit.

Parents, activists and community members gathered at Longfellow’s Spanish Immersion School to address the incidents they say their students have had.

“My son feels like there’s no one here to protect him,” Jeannie Chase said. “It left my son frustrated and crying constantly when he explains the story and doesn’t want to go to school anymore.”

Nikia Faulkner, another parent shared her children’s experience.

“When my daughter received several texts with emojis and dead knives,” Faulkner said. “The staff told her to delete the text messages because she shouldn’t want those negative vibes on her phone.”

Aminah Walker, another mom, also shared her daughter’s experience.

“In the first grade, while taking the bus, a boy was forced to kiss my daughter,” Walker said. “When she pushed the boy away, she was physically assaulted by two older boys, leaving her swollen, bruised, and disheveled hair.”

Parents and activists say they believe these incidents happen to their children because of their race, adding another layer of trauma to their children’s education.

According to data from the 2018-19 school year of the Community College Equity Assessment Lab Black Minds, black students make up over 8% of the SDUSD population and over 5% of the state’s student body. But they have disproportionate class expulsion, suspension and suppression statistics.

“The suspension rate for black girls is 5.1%, which is 46% higher than the district average. The suspension rate for black men is 10.7%. This rate is 206% higher than the district average. “

Tasha Williamson says current efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion are not enough to solve the problems in San Diego school districts.

“We can’t just keep hiring a few black people,” said Williamson. “Graduate black students and send them to college as a path to equity and inclusion.”

News 8 has contacted the San Diego County of Education for comment on this story. They responded with the following statement:

“All students deserve a world-class education with high expectations from caring adults who love and support them. And black students and children from other vulnerable communities face large, persistent and complex achievement gaps within the K-12 education system. It is not because our children have failed; it’s because our systems have failed children.

While county education offices do not have authority over equity efforts or school district disciplinary practices, we have the advantage of providing a network of experts and community members whose knowledge and wisdom are essential for serving and teaching our diverse children and honoring their cultures. .

At the San Diego County Office of Education, we are focused on providing community-informed, research-based advice to improve outcomes for historically marginalized students. Our goal is to work with education leaders to identify the systemic barriers that have resulted in the persistent and pervasive opportunity gaps experienced by marginalized students in San Diego County, and to address the root causes of these barriers. .

We are grateful to SDCOE’s African American Advisory Group, community partners, and the dedicated students and families who have reached out in partnership around a vision of equity. We are committed to making sure that the experiences of all young people, including black students, are positive at every grade level, in every school. “

News 8 also contacted the California Department of Education who sent the following statement:

“Superintendent Thurmond is committed to addressing institutional racism and inequalities that have caused disproportionate learning gaps for black students and other students of color. Calling on the impacts that systemic and institutional racism has had on black students; State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond has officially launched a statewide task force on improving outcomes for black students. He also helps lead a number of other efforts to improve conditions and outcomes for black students, including his work to diversify the teaching workforce and expand the pool of male educators through the use of $ 350 million in grants for teacher residency programs. The state superintendent and his CDE team are also leading a $ 3 billion community schools strategy to provide schools with comprehensive supports and services to tackle root causes and counter trends that have affected so. disproportionately black students in the pipeline from school to prison. . Additionally, the state superintendent also oversees $ 1.5 billion in professional development grants to promote educator excellence and anti-racism efforts in schools.

Since taking office, State Superintendent Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) have focused on finding ways to reduce suspensions, especially for students of color. These efforts include a variety of activities to address root causes and systemic responses. Important examples include how the CDE continues to encourage educators to be more aware of mental health issues, which can impact school behavior.

CDE staff provide ongoing training on disciplinary issues. As an example, you can view a link to recent training from September 2021 at the CDE Supervisor of Attendance Training and consult the State Guidelines for New Discipline Laws – Letters (CA Dept of Education) as well as Behavioral Intervention Strategies and Supports – School Environment (CA Department of Education).

During the pandemic, the CDE hosted a series of webinars to address the disproportionality of disciplinary actions in early childhood education, so that conversation can be started at an early age. To support this area, State Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE are providing grants to reduce chronic absenteeism and restorative justice through the Learning Communities for School Success (Prop 47) grant program, which was authorized by AB 1014 – a bill he drafted to the legislature and now oversees its implementation. To date, five recipient cohorts have been funded, totaling 115 grants and distributing over $ 120 million in funding.

Superintendent Thurmond knows more work is needed and will continue to focus on correcting existing disparities as well as inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic. “

The Longfellow Spanish Immersion Magnet School also provided a statement from its principal to parents at Wednesday’s press conference.

“I am writing to share that there was a small press event outside our school this morning raising questions about equity in public education.

Here at Longfellow, we are committed to fostering a culture of respect, tolerance and support for all students, teachers and staff.

I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the initiatives our school community has taken to support students, including work with the Innocent Classroom Project. For example, our college is engaged in a book study related to dismantling racial prejudice to support students of color. I was trained by Innocent Classroom Project before joining Longfellow, during my tenure at Esperanza Middle School, where we virtually eliminated suspensions.

There is a lot of work to be done around equity in education, locally and nationally. Please join us in discussing this very important work. If I can be of assistance to you, please send me an e-mail at [email protected]

WATCH RELATED: San Diego’s Best Stories for November 17, 2021 at 6 p.m.

Edward K. Thompson