Advocacy group files civil rights complaint over NYC school’s racially segregated program

Although racial segregation in the nation’s schools has been prohibited for nearly 60 years, one New York school has apparently not gotten the message.

Some parents in Manhattan are reportedly outraged over a junior high school’s decision to divide students by race — and they have responded by filing a civil rights complaint.

“A group formed around a shared interest”

Last month, the New York Post revealed that Lower Manhattan Community School administrators created a program in which seventh- and eighth-grade students would be sorted into “affinity groups” based on their skin color.

Principal Shanna Douglas announced the plan in an email to parents, describing it as part of an effort to “undo the legacy of racism and oppression in this country that impacts our school community.”

She went on to describe an “affinity group” as “a group formed around a shared interest,” explaining that racial identity would determine which group students would join for the program.

The two-day session was necessary, Douglas argued, because “students are talking about it since race has become a popular topic on social media or parents are talking even more about it at home due to the recent incidents across the nation.”

As for the topic of discussion, she said students would “explore the question ‘How do our racial identities influence our experiences?'”

“A lot of us feel like this is too much”

Although the school included an option for students to skip the racially segregated lesson, many parents remained skeptical that such an approach would prove beneficial.

“I think a lot of us feel like this is too much,” one parent revealed. “But most parents are too afraid to say anything at this point. Why are we separating our kids like this?”

According to the Washington Examiner, a group called Parents Defending Education has now filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Nicole Neily, the group’s president, cited information included in media reports as evidence that the school violated federal laws. In response, she wants the Department of Education to “promptly investigate the allegations in this complaint, act swiftly to remedy unlawful policies and practices, and order appropriate relief.”

Nathaniel Steyer, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education, attempted to stave off criticism by reiterating that the program was “optional” and “was developed in close coordination with both the School Leadership Team, PTA and families.”

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