NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The state of North Carolina is asking New Hanover County's school board members to certify they aren't intentionally segregating schools.
While there may not have been an intention, not all school members seem comfortable making that promise to the state. Some believe the school board knew what the outcome would be when they chose a districting plan based on neighborhoods.
"If you look at the data you can predict that those schools are going to be high poverty, high minority and be segregated," said board member Elizabeth Redenbaugh.
According to Redenbaugh, there is research showing the current districting plan does not help the county's diversity and school performance levels. Instead, it keeps students in schools closest to home.
"The numbers show there are racially identifiable schools, we can't dismiss that," said board member Dorothy Deshields during a meeting Tuesday night.
If not everyone signs off on the affidavit saying they didn't intentionally contribute to any segregation, the county could lose more than $700,000 in state funding.
"I would not want to sign anything that wasn't true," said Redenbaugh during Tuesday's meeting.
School board chairman Ed Higgins said the board did nothing intentional to create segregated schools in New Hanover County.
"I cannot really help where people choose to live," said Higgins. "My reaction to it is that the issue should be addressed by the city and county. They should help create more diverse housing."
If the school board continues with its neighborhood approach, Higgins said he is confident schools will improve regardless of demographics.
"There are a number of schools that have been successful with high poverty and high minority students," said Higgins.
School board members agreed to have a special meeting Oct. 12 to further discuss the issue. They have until Oct. 20 to return the letter to the state, and it must be signed by Higgins and Superintendent Markley in order to be accepted.
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