School district under investigation by Department of Education

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation into the Berkeley County Public Schools District earlier this week.

Parents say students at schools like Cane Bay or Berkeley high schools have more opportunities than students in rural areas such as Cross or Timberland high schools.

"I think they look at this as a means of racial discrimination. I hope that we would get facilities," said District Seven Berkeley County School board member Wilhelmina Moore.

Moore has been on the board for 17 years, and she says parents and high school students in more rural areas aren't getting equal access to programs or courses as students who live in wealthier areas.

"This is in the predominantly black neighborhoods where they're questioning the AP courses, which is advanced placement courses, honor courses, the culinary arts that we don't have," Moore said.

The school district sent out phone alerts and posted a notice on the district's website informing parents of a meeting with the Office for Civil Rights.

Investigators wanted to know how parents felt about AP course policies, quality of facilities, availability of course, and the quality of teachers and administration.

People at the meeting with the Office for Civil Rights say more than 75 parents, students and community leaders voiced concerns of discrimination.

The school district says one rural school in question, Cross High School, was recognized this year in US News and World Report's "Best High Schools" listing. Spokeswoman Kathie Sizemore says just because an investigation is ongoing, that doesn't mean any laws have been broken.

"We're working fully with the office of civil rights. We had a very good meeting, several very good meetings with them this week," Sizemore said. "We're all about doing everything we can for every one of our students, regardless of race, color, or national origin. Every student is important to us."

The office of civil rights began its investigation Monday and finished Thursday, but they have not said when the findings will be released.

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