Miss. School Restricts Class President to Whites, Blacks Have to Settle for VP or Less

August 27, 2010

(ChattahBox)—File this under, what were they thinking? A middle school in a sleepy town in Mississippi, population around 2,000, has a bizarre school policy on race, apparently circa 1950. The Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Miss., segregates the elections of class officers, as well as homecoming elections based on race. And for the record, the school administrators recognize only two ethnic groups, black and white. Mixed race students in the mostly-white school district, are left in an uncomfortable position. And worse, black students are literally second-class citizens at the Nettleton Middle School. Only white students are allowed to run in elections for class president this school year. Black students have to settle for vice president, secretary or reporter, depending on grade. And the absurd policy was even spelled out in black and white, (pun intended) in a school memo sent to parents.

The story was first reported by the blog, MixedandHappy.com after a parent alerted the blogger to the school memo outlining the segregating of class elections. The school policy was confirmed by the vice principal.

What is the policy exactly? The elections for 6th, 7th and 8th grades are neatly restricted by race, according to the following formula. You will notice black students in the 7th grade can only run for class secretary, while black 6th graders are restricted to class reporter.

The school’s segregated policies drew media attention, when a school parent with mixed-race children attending the school, objected to the strict race restrictions.

As reported by Gawker, when the mother questioned the policy, she was met with racial insensitivity and stereotypes about absent minority fathers:

“When one Nettleton mother approached the school board, wondering—among other things, obviously—which “category” her mixed-race kids (Italian and Native American) fell under, she was told the following:

They told me that they “Go by the mother’s race b/c with minorities the father isn’t generally in the home.” They also told me that ” a city court order is the reason why it is this way.”‘

The mother, Brandy Springer, has since moved out of town and enrolled her mixed-race children in another school.

Meanwhile, in response to the uproar over the school’s misguided racial policies, the school superintendent, Russell Taylor, posted a “media statement” on the school’s website, saying “The processes and procedures for student elections are under review.”

(Update: In response to the uproar over the school’s race-based class election policy, the school district board voted to eliminate the policy that had been implemented some 30-odd years ago in a misguided effort to promote racial diversity. School Superintendent Russell Taylor posted a statement announcing the end of the policy on the school’s website:

“It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body,” the statement said. “It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed.”

“Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity,” it added. “It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office.”


Comments

4 Responses to “Miss. School Restricts Class President to Whites, Blacks Have to Settle for VP or Less”

  1. majii on August 28th, 2010 4:11 pm

    This is not uncommon in schools in some southern states. I taught high school for over 30 years at a school in Middle GA. The policies at this school for homecoming queen and class elections for president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and parliamentarian had the same race based rules until the late 1990s. The rule for homecoming queen was kept until around 2004. The rule on for the election of the homecoming queen was only changed when one of our students whose heritage was Asian Indian had parents who questioned the BOE about the rule. The BOE changed the rule, and Trupti ran and won the title of Homecoming Queen. The school claimed that the reason it kept these race based rules had to do with being “fair.” The students saw no reason for the rules because they’d known each other since pre-K. This school is also located in a small community and is still the only high school in the city.

  2. Erick on August 28th, 2010 5:24 pm

    Your article is both misleading and false. Read the real story to get your facts straight.

  3. Vernon on August 29th, 2010 9:08 am

    I can confirm that such policies were once common in southern schools as a misguided attempt at “affirmative action.” My high school selected the homecoming queen based on race until my senior year (1977) when the policy was discontinued – and we elected a Japanese homecoming queen. And Erick, when you say an article is misleading and false you’re supposed to offer at least one specific example to support your charge.

  4. James M on August 30th, 2010 1:56 pm

    “Uncommon” or not, it’s a serious civil rights violation. Why aren’t the people who made this policy facing large fines, firing, or even jail time?

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