Gwinnett Parents Group Says Benchmarks Based On Race

Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.,None - A local parent coalition says the Gwinnett County School District is setting academic performance benchmarks based on race.

This month, Gwinnett STOPP, or The Coalition to Dismantle the School to Prison Pipeline, filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.

"When you set the bar very low, you're sure to make it,” said Marlyn Tillman with Gwinnett STOPP.

Tillman said the discriminating goals are spelled out in a contract between Gwinnett schools and Georgia's Investing in Educational Excellence program, better known as IE2.

She said there are different goals for different races.

Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh went through the contract and found several examples where the benchmarks varied.

One example is the performance goals for reading, English, and language arts at Lilburn's Trickum Middle School; they call for 48.3 percent of white students to meet or exceed test goals and nearly 49.8 percent of Asian students. But, the goals decrease for black students to 26.9 percent and drop even lower for Hispanics to 19.8 percent.

Tillman wants Gwinnett schools to take another look at how they set their goals.

“I couldn't believe that they wrote down in a contract different academic performance standards by race," said Duluth parent Lisa Edwards.

Kavanaugh spoke to several parents over the phone and in person who were shocked by the varying achievement levels.

Edwards said she fears some students won't be pushed enough and others will be overlooked.

“If every parent in Gwinnett knew that their kid is being labeled academically by their skin and what school they go to, they would be just as much up in arms as I am."

The contract has been in place since 2009. However, Tillman believes most parents are completely unaware of the numbers.

"If you're only trying to get to a certain target, and that target is historically lower -- it doesn't allow for student achievement," Tillman said.

It does appear Gwinnett did not set arbitrary numbers but based on historical data and state averages.

The Gwinnett County School District has not received a copy of the complaint yet, so its officials would not comment.

They did send a statement saying they are very pleased with their performance results under the contract so far.