- The Washington Times - Friday, February 19, 2016

An Arkansas high school said it regrets its decision to hold an assembly on gang violence that was only open to black students.

Local youth pastor Dante Shelton spoke to students about gangs and his own life story Wednesday morning at Maumelle High School, just north of Little Rock. An announcement over the school’s loudspeakers had instructed only black freshmen to attend, a local ABC News affiliate reported.

The ACLU sent an email to the school in search of more information. The Pulaski County Special School District explained in a statement that the assembly was part of “the district’s court-ordered desegregation efforts which encourage programs and opportunities tailored to minority students.”

While the school district admitted that it shouldn’t have excluded non-black students, it said the feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive.

“Yesterday, at an assembly during activities period at Maumelle High School, local pastor Dante Shelton was invited to speak to a group of African-American, ninth-grade students,” the district’s statement said. “He shared his personal success story and encouraged students to make good choices. Freshmen students were identified by the school because it is a time of transition when they are more easily influenced. Black students were selected with the intent that the assembly would be an extension of the district’s court-ordered desegregation efforts, which encourage programs and opportunities tailored to minority students.

“Students who did not want to attend the program were not required to do so, and the response to Mr. Shelton’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive,” the statement said. “The Pulaski County Special School District regrets that this inspirational program was not made available to all students and in the future will work to ensure that when outside speakers are brought into a school that all students are included.”

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