Manchester schools told to increase minority AP enrollment
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced the agreement on Thursday, capping a federal review that began in 2011. A report released by the agency found that black, Latino and English-learning students were disproportionately under-enrolled in the district's Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
"It's about making sure every student understands how they can get into AP courses or 'Running Start,' and language should not be a barrier," she said. "It's our obligation to help students. Maybe a Spanish speaker just came into the country, and they have an outstanding educational background. We don't to want to keep them out of courses because they're learning English."The DOE report found that during the 2010-2011 school year, 26 out of the 434 seats in AP courses were held by black or Latino students, even though their enrollment in city high schools was 381 and 596, respectively. State data for that year shows that the district was 8.1 percent black and 13.4 percent Latino; the DOE report indicates blacks held 4 percent of AP seats and Latinos held 2 percent of the seats. Livingston said the DOE review was initiated in April of 2011, as part of a periodic compliance review. "They felt there were things we could improve on," she said.
Prior to the announcement Thursday, the DOE investigation had not been publicly discussed at the school board meetings or by the superintendent.
The issue of racial disparities in the school district has been a sensitive one. In August of 2012, local members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission appeared at a school board meeting to assail the district for policies that they charged effectively amounted to the segregation of English-learning students. Mayor Ted Gatsas at the time rejected the allegations and asked the commission to leave.
"We'll see," he said. "It won't take long to figure out if they're doing what they say they're going to do. If they don't do this, it only gets worse for the city, which means they're going to have larger penalties, both financial — and criminal, if nothing gets done."