Parent Complain That Pep Talks Singled Out Latinos, Blacks

VOORHEES, N.J.  

Parents of black and Latino students at Camden County’s Eastern Regional High School complained to the school board last week that the school may have been discriminating by scheduling pep talks just for minority students.

Administrators say they were trying to encourage black and Latino students to sign up for advanced placement and honors classes, where they are underrepresented. All black and Latino students were required to attend one of the sessions, regardless of their academic performance. White students were exempted.

According to the Camden Courier Post, eight parents addressed the Eastern Camden County Regional school board, complaining that parents were not informed of the talks or their purpose. They said the events also sparked rumor-mongering as some white students speculated that their black and Latino peers were failing, the newspaper said.

Administrators described the talks as 10-minute motivational meetings held over four days during school hours, the Courier Post reported. Eastern High counts 234 black and 65 Latino students, who together make up about 14 percent of the student population. The newspaper quoted a memo from Principal Robert M. Tull Jr. to the district indicating that minority students suffer “disproportionate representation . . . in accelerated, honors and advanced-level courses.”

“I . . . encouraged students to talk with their parents and consider taking more challenging courses as they prepare to select courses for next year,” Tull wrote.



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