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Data used by feds to assert discrimination in Manchester schools to be reviewed

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 27. 2014 10:49PM

MANCHESTER — At the insistence of Mayor Ted Gatsas, a special school board committee will be meeting Wednesday to discuss the ongoing review of the district by the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Gatsas has been highly critical of the group's findings, which suggested that minority students were being steered away from advanced courses.

Superintendent Debra Livingston announced a settlement with the OCR last month under which the district agreed to assess minority student enrollment in advanced high school courses and to take steps to boost their participation.

Toward this goal, Livingston worked with at-large school board member Kathy Staub to form a special working group to deal with the issue.

Gatsas, however, said that the work of the group should take place under the auspices of the school board and insisted that a special school board committee be created, on which three board members would sit.

“The meeting is here. I think we should have it in public,” he said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The meeting will take place at City Hall at 3 p.m.

One central question will likely concern the data that the OCR cited to make its case that minority student were disproportionately under-enrolled in Advanced Placement courses in the high schools, which Gatsas has called "slanted.”

The OCR's report used 2010-2011 state data to note that black students, who made up around 7 percent of high school students, held 4.5 percent of the seats in AP courses; Hispanic students, who made up 11 percent of the student body, held no AP seats in two of the high schools and nine seats (6 percent) at Memorial. White students, by contrast, made up about 75 percent of total students, but held about 85 percent of the AP seats. Asian students weren’t included in the analysis.

Livingston said she and others would discuss the data at the meeting.

"We're prepared to go through that and explain how that data came about," she said.

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