Norm Ross, Deputy Superintendent for Escambia County Schools, stated that the Escambia County School District would rather withhold its response to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC’s) school district report card until the district staff can fulfill the SPLC’s public records request. Amir Whitaker, a civil rights attorney with SPLC stated that the public records request is for updated metrics related to its school district report card issued to the public on May 28th.
Attorney Whitaker stated that the information included in the SPLC report card of his agency’s analysis of student arrests, suspensions, graduation rates, test scores, and teacher diversity ratios was gathered from the U.S. Department of Education, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Office of Civil Rights. He stated on the record that the law center has too much of its credibility on the line to distort the numbers.
As reported in the last issue of the Pensacola Voice, the ECSD is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for its disciplinary actions that disproportionately impact Black students. The SPLC filed the civil rights complaint to begin the investigation into the district’s discipline track record. The investigation is ongoing according to Whitaker.
This week on Monday June 8th a group of Escambia Youth Justice Coalition (EYJC) members met to discuss the challenges related to graduation, school discipline, school arrests, and the impact these issues are having on the community. In addition the attendees asked for the data. Graduation highlights are as follows for the 2013-2014 school year: 1.) 66% of students graduated from high school, 2.) 49% of African Americans students graduated, 3.) 34% of at-risk students graduated, and 4.) 53% of economic disadvantaged students graduated.
Additional data was provided on disciplinary actions: and 1.) 18.7% of the student population were disciplined with suspension or expulsion, 2.) While African American students account for 34% of the student population, they made up 63% of the students disciplined, and 3.) 33.8% of the African American student population were disciplined, while only 10.8% of the white student population were disciplined. The information was pulled directly from the Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Websites. A “save the date” request was made by the EYJC leadership for Monday, June 15th at 9:00 am for a School Board Workshop to discuss the Escambia County School District Rights & Responsibility Handbook and Tuesday, June 16th at 5:30pm School Board Meeting to vote on the Rights & Responsibility Handbook.