Charters to be checked for equality in Red Clay

By Michelle Provencher 11:06pm, May 14, 2014 - Updated 8:40am, May 15, 2014
VIDEO: School Board Member Kenneth Rivera explains next steps to WDEL's Michelle Provencher.
Charter and magnet schools will be under the microscope to see if discrimination exists in the enrollment process.

WDEL's Michelle Provencher reports.

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Red Clay's School Board creates a new committee to investigate charter and magnet school admissions policies for possible prejudice.

Board member Kenneth Rivera, District C, introduced the topic at Wednesday night's meeting.

"If you look at the demographics at some of the schools, it is a vast disproportionate number of students who are of low income, special ed, certain races who are not attending certain schools," Rivera says. "So my question is, why?"

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There's no doubt charter and magnet schools in Red Clay School District are a popular option.

But according to state statistics, only 5.5 percent of the student body at the Charter School of Wilmington is African American, despite 22.4 percent of the district identifying as African American.

Likewise, 23.8 percent of the district are Hispanic/Latino, yet 3.4 percent of Charter School of Wilmington kids are Latino.

Numbers also show 53.9 percent of kids in Red Clay are considered low-income, but 5.7 percent of Charter School of Wilmington students are low-income.

Special education students make up 11.3 percent of Red Clay, but less than one percent of the Charter School of Wilmington need special education.

Rivera says action needs to be taken to ensure institutional hurdles aren't stacking the odds against race or economic groups.

"What are the proactive measures we are taking as a district, because we do value diversity and we do value the opportunity for everyone to have an equal chance to attend these schools," Rivera says.

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Rivera says school leadership is on board with his mission of creating a level playing field for all of Red Clay's students.

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