TES class assignments get approval

Published 8:33 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

Classroom assignments at Troy Elementary School have earned approval from the city council member who spearheaded a federal complaint about the racial demographics of the classes.

The assignments were completed this week and sent to representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights for approval.

“And I have to give credit where credit is due,” said Dejerilyn Henderson, Troy City Council member. “Every class is integrated … And I’m extremely satisfied.”

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Henderson served as spokesperson for a group of parents who filed a complaint in 2013 alleging the practice of allowing parents to request child placement in classrooms was intentionally discriminatory. In December 2013, the parents and the school district reached a mediated settlement in which the district agreed to cease the practice of allowing parents to request their children be placed with specific teachers. Henderson said the practice created classes with only African-American or other minority students, what she calls “all black or brown classes,” that were inherently segregated while some classes were majority white with only a few African American students. She said she and the other parents sought to have classes that were more integrated.

As part of the agreement, representatives from the Office of Civil Rights came to Troy last week to observe the class assignment process.

“From what he told me, all of the classes are equal,” Henderson said, adding that all classes are integrated. “Now we’re going to start changing the mentality of the children because they’re with children from all different backgrounds.”

Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools, said the process was the result of “countless hours” of work by TES Principal Teresa Sims and her administrative staff.

“The classroom assignments were being distributed to teachers (Friday),” he said. “Mrs. Sims did a fantastic job for us there, and she and her administrative staff worked countless hours to make sure everything met the requirements.

“We’re ready to put this behind us and move forward with our school year.”

Hicks said teachers, administrators, parents and students throughout the district are “excited about the future here and looking forward to seeing what positive things we can accomplish.”

Classes start Aug. 14.