VA School Walks Back ‘Segregation Plan’ After Parents Revolt

By Published on March 31, 2016

At a Tuesday night hearing the Loudoun County School Board revised rezoning plans for the wealthy Virginia community after parents revolted over a plan critics said segregated the school district.

Overcrowding at Evergreen Mill Elementary promoted the initial plan to rezone the county’s public schools. Low-income, primarily Latino students are dispersed throughout public schools in the county. Plan 12 wanted to move those students to Leesburg and Fredericksburg elementary schools beginning next year, reports WTOP. This quickly turned into a heated debate over economic and racial segregation in the public school system.

Proponents of the plan say these students will be better served if they are exposed to more specialized instruction which can be done by enrolling them in Leesburg and Frederick Douglas elementary schools. Supporters say these schools are closer to the poor communities where the majority of the Latino students come from, arguing economic integration across the county is burdening families in impoverished communities.

“Nobody on this board was trying to racially segregate anybody here,” board member Beth Huck said Tuesday night. “I want community schools and I want diversity, that being said, I’m looking to compromise.”

Eighty-four percent of the poor students in the county live in a group of rundown apartment complexes. Additionally, 70 percent are in the process of learning English. Opposition to Plan 12 became heated and emotional as parents throughout the community gave testimony over their concerns, reports The Washington Post.

“I don’t want the kids to be divided,” Griselda Fuentes, a community parent, said through a translator. “This is going to cause great stress on our community.”

The board settled on a far less controversial plan which keeps students from low-income neighborhoods in their current schools. The policy follows the idea of economic integration, which disperses poor students in schools throughout the community to benefit from interactions with different peers.

“I believe it provides stability to our at-risk students,” Brenda Sheridan, vice chair of the board, told The Washington Post.

Parents critical of the plan united behind an Educate Don’t Segregate petition which garnered over 1,000 signatures. Proponents of Plan 12 defended themselves against charges of racism despite failing to push through their reform.

“It’s just a flat-out lie to say that we wanted to put all Hispanic students in one school and all white students in another,” Board Member Debbie Rose told The Washington Post, alleging opponents intentionally misinformed the Latino community. “I value diversity very much. I grew up in L.A.”


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