Oklahoma City Public School officials confirmed this week that the district was under investigation this week by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for multiple civil rights violations.
Superintendent Rob Neu first admitted that the district was working to resolve three civil rights complaints on Dec. 8 in his 100-day transition report to the School Board.
According to the complaints, the district has not provided equal opportunities to male and female students, and it has discriminated against black and disabled students. The complaints also accused the district of unfairly retaliating and discriminating when disciplining black and Hispanic students.
Neu told the board that the district would act regardless of the outcome of the investigation because black students were “dying on the vine,” The Oklahoman reported.
“When you go deep into the data you’ll see that it is more of a factor to be African-American in your performance levels here in Oklahoma City than it is to be in poverty,” Neu said. “Students in poverty are outperforming students that are African-American. If you’re African-American and you’re in poverty, you have a double dip.”
He pointed out that black and Hispanic students were more likely to be disciplined by school officials, and black students were more likely to be placed in special education classes.
Neu said that the academic data “tells us there is something more important than poverty or language spoken in the home that is influencing our African-American student’s ability to thrive in the system — we have simply failed to support these students.”
A district spokesperson said on Friday that Neu had not been under obligation to disclose the investigation, but he wanted to use the opportunity to focus on the needs of minority students.
“The superintendent was not obligated to release the information in his 100-day report, but it supports his views on the importance of transparency and the need for an honest look at the state of our schools,” the spokesperson said.
Watch the video below from KWTV, broadcast Dec. 15, 2014.