School Segregation Claims Take Center Stage At Parent Meeting
by Emily Luxen
SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. - Parents who believe the Robertson County school system is segregated spoke out in front of federal officials investigating the district.
At a community meeting Thursday, parents voiced concerns that schools in the county with predominantly white students get better resources than the schools in Springfield which have a high percentage of minority students. Specifically, parents cited low test scores and sub par facilities at Springfield schools.
"The students in the cluster of Springfield schools, we think don't get an equal opportunity for education," said resident Raymond Francis.
Francis contacted the U.S. Department of Justice about the alleged discrimination several years ago. As a result, a team of five officials from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education spent part of the week touring Robertson County Schools. They visited with district officials and listened to parents' concerns.
Jim Bellis, the Communications Coordinator for Robertson County Schools, said the district welcomed all feedback that could help improve schools, but said claims of segregation were false.
"To say that our system is deliberately marginalizing anyone has no foundation or truth," said Bellis.
While Robertson County's enrollment overall is 80 percent white, minority students are concentrated in a few schools. Some parents said new school sites were selected to preserve segregation, and others believed the school district needs to change zoning lines.
"Instead of someone standing in front of a map and drawing a line, they are going to have to go about it from a statistical and logical way," said parent Shane Shoemaker.
Several parents said they hoped changes would come soon, because the situation was beginning to take a toll on the city of Springfield.
"Without strong education, our wages are kept low," said resident Darrell Woodward. "Also, people won't move places where education isn't in the forefront of the community."
The visiting officials with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education wrap up their stay Friday, with a final meeting with Robertson County School administrators. School district officials said they will eventually get the results of the investigation, but don't know when.