A mother in Atlanta has filed a civil rights complaint with the US Department of Education alleging her children’s elementary school placed Black students in separate classrooms from their peers based on their race.
Kila Posey, the mother of two Black children enrolled in Mary Lin Elementary School in Atlanta, said some classes in that school “had been formulated, in part, based upon race of the students” during the 2020-21 academic year, according to the complaint provided by her attorney Sharese Shields.
Posey said the principal assigned two teachers’ classes as the “Black classes,” and about 13 Black second-grade students were assigned only to those two second-grade classes.
“To our knowledge, (the principal) designated these black classes without the knowledge or consent of the families of the affected black students. Instead, she unilaterally decided what was in the best interests of the black students, relegating them to only those classes she deemed appropriate,” Posey wrote in the complaint dated July 22.
“Meanwhile, the placement of white students was not restricted; they were able to be placed in any of the six second grade classes,” she said.
According to the complaint filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, the assistant principal at the school admitted in a recorded phone conversation that she was aware of the class separation the principal created, noting that “class lists are always tough” and that she wished the school had more Black children.
CNN has reviewed the recordings referenced in the complaint, which was provided by Shields.
The elementary school has 599 students in grades kindergarten through fifth, according to the Georgia Department of Education’s latest data. Of those, 60 students are Black, according to the ethnicity/race breakdown.
The second-grade class has 98 students, 12 of whom are Black and 81 are White, the data shows.
Ian Smith, who heads the Atlanta Public Schools’ Office of Communications and Public Engagement, told CNN that the district conducted a review of the allegations and that “appropriate actions were taken to address the issue and the matter was closed.”
Smith added: “Atlanta Public Schools does not condone the assigning of students to classrooms based on race.
The principal named in the complaint still holds her position, according to Mary Lin Elementary School’s website.
Posey wants more to be done, saying that she and her husband faced retaliation for expressing their concerns over the class separation, the complaint says.
She is asking the Office of Civil Rights to help “end the practice of designating certain classes as the only classes that black students can be placed in at Mary Lin.”
“In addition, I would like APS (Atlanta Public Schools) to remove the entire leadership team at Mary Lin,” Posey wrote in her request to the OCR.
“The Administrators there have demonstrated poor professional judgement by instituting this discriminatory practice and subsequently engaging in retaliatory acts. As such, they should not be trusted to make educational decisions for my child or any other children.”
Principal retaliated against parents, complaint says
In the complaint, Posey said she and her husband “suffered retaliatory acts” after they spoke against the discriminatory class separation at the school.
The principal allegedly requested that Posey’s husband, who has been serving as a school psychologist at the school for eight years, be transferred to another school, Posey wrote in the complaint.
Posey is a former Atlanta Public Schools employee who now runs her own company, The Club After School, which offers after-school programs at schools in APS and DeKalb County School District, according to the complaint.
The principal allegedly attempted to cut Posey’s services from the school, according to a conversation she had with Yolanda Brown, the chief academic officer at APS, with whom a recorded phone conversation also took place, the complaint says.
Posey said she’s been running the school’s after-school program since 2018, the complaint says.
An Education Department spokesperson told CNN the Office for Civil Rights “may not confirm complaints prior to the opening of an investigation.”
Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.