- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The U.S. Department of Education is investigating the Oklahoma City Public Schools District for three complaints, including one alleging racial discrimination against Hispanic and black students related to discipline.

The district also is accused of failing to provide equal opportunities to male and female high school students, and of discriminating against blacks and disabled students related to alternative education placements, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/138QoZ4 ) reported.

Superintendent Rob Neu disclosed the complaints during a school board meeting earlier this month. District spokeswoman Tierney Tinnin said officials are working with the federal agency’s civil rights office on each of the complaints.

“Because it is an ongoing legal issue, additional information cannot be shared publicly at this time,” Tinnin said.

The allegations are mentioned in Neu’s 100-day transition report, in which he identified five critical issues the district faces, including academic achievement.

Blacks are worse off academically than any other racial group in the district, he said. Only 49 percent of black students in grades 3 to 8 are reading at a proficient level compared to 60 percent of students who qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches.

“When you go deep into the data you’ll see that it is more of a factor to be African-American in your performance levels here in Oklahoma City than it is to be in poverty,” he said. “Students in poverty are outperforming students that are African-American. If you’re African-American and you’re in poverty, you have a double dip.”

Neu told the board that black students are “dying on the vine” in academics because the district has failed to support them.

“If we don’t intervene and do something now, then we know their pathway,” he said.

He added that black and Hispanic male students are being disciplined “at a much greater level than their white counterparts” and that African-American boys are “overrepresented in special education.”

Tinnin said Neu wasn’t required to disclose the allegations, but did to highlight the problems blacks and other students face.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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