( 4UMF NEWS ) Student Can’t Return To School Because He’s Black:
A third-grader from St. Louis was told he couldn’t return to his elementary school next year—because he’s black.
Edmund Lee’s family will be moving from inside St. Louis city limits to a new suburban school district and, when they asked if the boy could still attend his school after the move, they were refused due to a twisted application of a decades-old state desegregation law forbidding black students from going to city schools.
“It was surprising to me to have on a piece of paper that he couldn’t attend because he was an African American and if he was another race he could,” LaShieka White, Edmond’s mother, told the Daily News.
The 1980 U.S. Court of Appeals law that will prevent Edmond, 9, from returning to the city charter school, Gateway Science Academy, was created with good intentions.
The desegregation law was supposed to diversify both the city schools, which were in poor condition and predominantly black, as well as the suburban schools, in better condition and predominantly white.
But in the case of Edmond’s school, which is roughly 80 percent white, this particular application of the law will actually have the inverse effect by barring a black student.
“I’m kind of still in shock about the whole thing. It was intended for a good reason at the time,” White, 30, said.
White is attempting to fight the city policy so that Edmond can stay in the school where he’s been since kindergarten and has excelled.
“We love the school, we love the staff, that’s why we’re trying to fight for him to stay,” she said.
The school community has been supportive of Edmond’s case and a whopping 54,000 people from around the world have signed White’s Change.org petition.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a statement clarifying that the “unfortunate situation” is because “of the student’s change in residency.”
“Even if the family’s new St. Louis County school district participated in the transfer program, the student would still not be able to transfer. This situation stems from the 1980 U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the St. Louis City and County schools were maintaining segregated systems. In 1983, the schools reached a Desegregation Settlement Agreement allowing African-American students to transfer into primarily white suburban school districts and for non-African American students to attend St. Louis schools. The goal was to try to balance the racial makeup of the city and county schools,” the statement read.
White says that she’s open to moving to another school district, but wants to raise awareness about a perverse application of a well-intentioned law.
“The only thing I would really like out of this whole outcome are that the guidelines be revised for all children. I don’t think a factor of race should determine if a kid should be able to go to school or not, or the guidelines should have some leeway for how to deal with situations like this,” she said.
“I don’t want any other families to go through what we’re going through.”
Edmond will finish this school year at Gateway Science Academy.
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