Struggling Richland Parish schools mired in controversy; white students can't transfer

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 1:50pm

Controversy is swirling around two Richland Parish elementary schools after parents received a note stating white children could not transfer from the struggling schools.

One excerpt states: "Please note that white students at Rayville Elementary School/Delhi Elementary School will not be allowed to transfer to the listed schools due to the present provisions issued in the federal Richland Parish School desegregation case."

The Richland Parish School District finished 62nd out of 72 Louisiana districts. Richland's score dropped five points from 88.2 to 83.2--- a 'D' rated score.

Specifically, Rayville Elementary School, the lowest scoring school in the district, dropped 4 points from 66.6 to 62.2--- an 'F' rated score. Delhi Elementary School increased thier scores from a 65.6 to 65.8.
 

School Performance Scores
Letter Grade
SPS Range (2010-2011) Approx. % of Students Below Basic
A
120.0-200.0 0-12%
B
105.0-119.9 13-24%
C
90.0-104.9 25-36%
D
65.0-89.9* 37-61%
F
0-64.9* 62-100%


Superintendent Sheldon Jones of the Richland Parish School Board released the following letter:

On July 24, 2012, our district received an electronic notification of projected schools with school performance scores below 75. In the communication, the Louisiana Department of Education identified Delhi Elementary School, Delhi Middle School, and Rayville Elementary School.

The e-mail contained a sample parent letter for school choice. The Louisiana Department of Education's Public Choice Policy required parent contact by our school district within ten business days of receiving the notification. The district mailed school choice letters on July 26, 2012.

Prior to mailing the letters, I consulted with our district's legal counsel concerning majority to minority transfers as identified in our desegregation order entitled United States of America v. Richland Parish School Board (August 7, 1986).

The order gives specific guidelines for student transfers within Richland Parish. The order reads, "Any student may transfer from a school where his race is in the majority to a school where his race is in the minority." Our district was advised by legal counsel to include the following statement in our parent letter: "Please note that white students at Rayville Elementary School/Delhi Elementary School will not be allowed to transfer to the listed schools due to the present provisions issued in the federal Richland Parish School desegregation case."

Legal counsel has advised our district to comply with the provisions of our desegregation order. Any relief from student transfer provisions of the order must be granted by the United States District Court. Relief cannot be granted until after official school performance scores are released by the Louisiana Department of Education.

School districts received the previous year's scores on October 4, 2011.

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