Wednesday, August 02, 2000

Columbus school board member sues colleagues

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A city school board member is taking his colleagues to court, accusing them of fostering racial discrimination throughout the district's schools.

        Board member Bill Moss is one of more than 50 plaintiffs in a federal discrimination lawsuit filed against the school board Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

        The suit asks for $39 million in damages, WCMH-TV in Columbus reported. Those who filed the suit said they would use the money for counseling for students and for minority teacher training programs.

        Allegations include claims that:

        • Black students receive harsher discipline than whites, leading to more suspensions, expulsions and dropouts.

        • Black administrators are punished more severely than whites.

        • The school board treats black parents unfairly.

        • The district uses a quota system to limit the number of black and minority teachers.

        “What you have is white folks in charge of white success, and white folks in charge of black failure,” Mr. Moss said Tuesday.

        Others told the TV station they feared legal action would take away, rather than promote, efforts to achieve equality.

        “I just worry that this kind of attempt or stunt by these individuals, including a colleague of mine on the board, is really nothing more than an attempt to get attention for themselves,” school board member Mark Hatch said.

        Listed as defendants in the suit are board members and community, government and business leaders.

        The suit is based in part on an audit recently performed by Phi Delta Kappa International, a Bloomington, Ind., organization that studies public education.

        The organization criticized the Columbus district for not having a stated philosophy on matters such as how to close race- and gender-based gaps in student achievement, how to recruit teachers and improve their training, and how to make decisions about buildings.


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