February 25, 2010 - PCS was contacted this morning from various news media representatives about a potential complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding Pitt County Board of Education Policy 10.209.
A complaint filed with the OCR is not a lawsuit. The OCR does not open an investigation into every complaint that is received. At this time, the school district has not received anything from the OCR that a complaint has been filed or to indicate that they are opening an investigation into a complaint.
The Pitt County Board of Education’s anti-discrimination policy encourages students and/or their parents to submit any complaints of discrimination, harassment or bullying through the complaint process established in Procedure 10.212-P (Procedure for Student and Parent Grievances). To date, PCS has not received a grievance regarding any type of racial discrimination in the administration of our School Uniform and Appearance Policy.
The Pitt County Board of Education held an extensive year long community engagement process prior to the adoption of the school uniform policy. Background on Uniforms
Bethel School and Belvoir Elementary School implemented school uniform policies several years prior to the district-wide policy being approved. These pilots were successful, and no claims of racial discrimination were ever made.
PCS has decreased out-of-school suspensions in the last two years by 19%. We recognize that the representation of African-Americans is high. As a district, we will continue to implement initiatives designed to decrease suspension rates for all students. The following is a break-down of school uniform out-of-school suspensions to date in grades K-12.
o Total Number of Suspensions = 174
o Total Number of Students = 150
o Percent African-American = 77%
o Percent Caucasian = 14%
o Uniforms represent only 3.2% of all out of school suspensions to date
PCS has never asserted that the uniform policy would raise achievement levels.
The PCS administration has always acknowledged the achievement gap between our African-American and Caucasian students. Although we still have much work to do, the teachers, staff, students, parents and community are to be commended for their efforts in helping our district address this issue. The number of African-American subgroups meeting AYP increased from 41% in 2008 (before uniforms) to 84% in 2009 (after uniforms). Any claim that the uniform policy resulted in lower achievement for African-American students during the first year of uniforms is false.
Since its implementation, the school Uniform and Appearance Policy has had tremendous support from our parents, students, staff and community. To date, more than $30,000 has been donated to our School Uniform Form fund. This money is used by our school social workers to help provide clothing to students in need. While this dollar amount only reflects donations made directly to PCS, we know that many others have made contributions including the NAACP, local churches, businesses, civic groups and individuals. Many schools in this district also have a selection of school uniform clothing that is used to help students in need. These items have also been donated from our parents, students, staff and community. We are very grateful for this support.
“I can’t say enough about the phenomenal support demonstrated by our parents, civic groups, businesses, churches, and the entire community during the implementation of this policy,” commented Superintendent Dr. Beverly Reep. “Our first year was not without challenges, but our second year of implementation has been much smoother. We can only hope that Mr. Hall, CEO of the Kinston Charter Academy, has experienced this same support and success in the implementation of the required uniform policy that currently exists at the Kinston Charter Academy.”