Public Comments; Re: Joint Motion for Approval
We invite you to participate in a special opportunity to comment in writing and in person on the status of the Franklin County School District’s longstanding effort to desegregate its schools and ensure equal educational opportunities for all students no matter their race. Written comments may be submitted to the District by September 17, 2018, and a public discussion will be held before the Board of Education on October 8, 2018. Your comments will be considered by the parties and the Court in the federal desegregation case known as Coppedge & United States v. Franklin County Board of Education (“the Coppedge case”).
Federal law requires school districts to operate and administer their programs in a nondiscriminatory manner. As a result of courageous action taken by citizens of Franklin County, this obligation was reinforced locally in 1967 by order of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in the Coppedge case.
Franklin County Schools (“the District”) has made significant progress over the years in ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunities. In 2002, the court decided that the District had met its obligations with regard to transportation, extracurricular activities, school construction and facilities, student transfers, and the hiring and assignment of faculty (i.e., teachers). These areas are no longer part of the Coppedge case and therefore are not the subject of this public comment process.
In 2003, the federal court approved a Consent Order, to which the Coppedge plaintiffs, the United States, and the District all agreed (the “2003 Order”). Part of that order affects how students are currently assigned and/or reassigned to schools through District-approved transfers. The 2003 Order was designed to complete the process of desegregating the District’s schools in the areas that remained subject to Court supervision: student assignment, staff, and quality of education, which includes academic achievement, advanced courses, gifted and talented program, special education program, student discipline, and student dropouts. Between 2003 and 2017, the District has annually reported on its compliance in each of these areas to the Court and the other parties in this case (the Coppedge plaintiffs and the United States).
Last fall, after the District filed its 2017 report, the Court in the Coppedge case ordered the parties to identify any areas where the District was not in compliance with the 2003 Order. Counsel for the Coppedge plaintiffs, the United States, and the District all agreed that the District needs to take additional steps to achieve compliance with certain terms of the 2003 Order regarding the administration of student discipline and the gifted and talented program, and that the Court should retain supervision of these terms of the 2003 Order until the District complies with them. The parties also agreed that the Court should allow students who have participated in the Majority-to minority (M-to-M) transfer program under the 2003 order to complete the highest grade at their school so that this program may be phased out without disrupting M-to-M students’ education.
The Court now seeks your input regarding this proposal to modify the 2003 Order. The full proposal is enclosed and is referred to as the proposed Stipulation. The proposal, the 2003 Order, and additional documents (Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2 and Exhibit 3) are also available by clicking on each hyperlink.
You may submit written comments regarding the proposal until September 17, 2018 via the following methods:
- Mail: Franklin County Schools
Attn: Diane Marks
53 West River Road
Louisburg, NC 27549
- Designated boxes and FCS school facilities and the Central Office
- FCS Website: Public Comment Form (Please select other, and write in "Joint Motion for Approval".)
In addition to submitting written comments about this proposal, you may also attend the October 8, 2018 public meeting on this proposal and make oral comments. This public meeting will be held during the regularly scheduled board meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Board Meeting Room in the Central Office located in Building A at 53 West River Road, Louisburg, N.C. 27549. If there is not enough room, the meeting will be moved to the adjacent gymnasium. Speakers will have the opportunity to share their opinions regarding the proposal.
All comments are subject to the public record laws of the State of North Carolina and will be made available to all parties to the case. They also will be summarized for the Court’s consideration and may also be provided in full to the Court upon request.