Christina School District discusses discrimination agreement

By Tom Lehman 12:44am, June 13, 2013 - Updated 6:40pm, June 13, 2013
VIDEO: An exchange between NCCo. Councilman Jea Street (D-Wilmington South) and Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams.
Christina School District faced scrutiny Wednesday during a public hearing over plans to address findings from an investigation into discipline against black students.

WDEL's Tom Lehman has more.

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Christina Superintendent Freeman Williams told the assembly that the district is working to fulfill an agreement with the U.S. Education department, which found black students in district schools were disciplined more harshly and more often than white students in similar situations.

The investigation looked into school discipline during three school years, beginning in 2008.

"As a district we are following their directions, and we're confident that we will be able to resolve many of the issues that they've identified," Williams said.

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The superintendent said steps being taken to fulfill the agreement involve training and support for district administrators and teachers, which is intended to improve the fairness and consistency in the disciplinary system. The plan also involves surveying students and their families on school discipline hiring personnel to assist in developing behavior modification plans.

You can see more information about the resolution agreement on the district's website

The sometimes contentious meeting was held by Wilmington City Council's Education, Youth and Families Committee and allowed members of the public to ask questions directed at Williams and district administrators.

Among the more vocal critics of Christina was New Castle County Councilman Jea Street (D-Wilmington South), who engaged Williams in questions about the accountability of those involved in the discriminatory discipline.

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"Has anyone been held accountable?" Street asked.

"I would say that our whole system is being held accountable," Williams said.

"So the answer to that is no individual has been held accountable, is that correct?" Street responded. "And nobody's been held responsible?"

"At this time I would have to go back and review that, I would not want to make a mis-statement," Williams answered.

The superintendent told WDEL there is misconception among the public that there was a particular person behind the discrimination and the district felt it needed to make changes to its protocols and procedures to meet the criteria of its resolution agreement.

City Councilman Trippi Congo (D-District 2), who chaired the meeting, said he wasn't fully satisfied with what district officials told the assembly. However, he says the hearing was productive.

"This is a meeting where some very difficult questions were asked and some very difficult facts were stated about the district and some of their wrongdoings," Congo said.

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However, he wants them to continue meeting with the public in the future.

"I think that's something that needs to be done so that there's some trust earned on their part," he said.

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