East Lansing Schools Investigated For Racial Discrimination - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

East Lansing Schools Investigated For Racial Discrimination

UPDATE (Sunday, Mach 10, 2013): A complaint filed claims the East Lansing Public Schools' decision to close Red Cedar Elementary School discriminates against the minority students who go there.

Teresa Goforth is the parent of a Red Cedar Elementary School student and a member of the school's parent association. She hopes the racial discrimination investigation will ultimately make East Lansing school officials re-think their November 2012 decision to close the school in 2014.

"We believe it was a political decision and not necessarily one that's about finances or necessarily about what's best for the children in our district," said Goforth.

This isn't the first time the district has been under fire. Last year, a similar complaint was filed, but dropped.

Superintendent David Chapin tells 6 News he wishes the investigation would've continued so the district wouldn't have to revisit it again. "We would never, do anything to based on race or international student population," said Dr. Chapin.

He adds the idea to re-purpose the school into a pre-k and administrative office building has nothing to do with race. He says its about running the district more efficiently.

"Red cedar has been front and center in this conversation. There's no question about it," said Dr. Chapin. "Simply because of the numbers of students who are in that area and a changing landscape of housing opportunities in that area."

Dr. Chapin says his office received a letter informing the district of the allegations and investigation from the U.S. Department of Education on Friday. He has yet to review the information with his staff.

"I'm very concerned that there is an attempt to manipulate the Office of Civil Rights," he said.

A board meeting is scheduled Monday, but the Red Cedar issue is not on the agenda. Instead, district officials say they will focus on a vote to reconfigure MacDonald Middle School.

Dr. Chapin expects to revisit the Red Cedar issue at a later date.

ORIGINGAL STORY (Saturday, March 9, 2013):

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The Department of Education last week launched an investigation into claims that the East Lansing School District's November 2012 decision to close Red Cedar Elementary in 2014 discriminates against students of color.

Supporters of Red Cedar say it is one of the most diverse schools in the district, and that closing the school would have a negative impact on those students and their educational experience.

The Office of Civil Rights says it will investigate whether or not the district treated students differently based on race.

However, the letter states that an investigation does not necessarily imply that the OCR believes the allegations have merit. It simply means it will look further into the accusations at hand.

This is not the first time the East Lansing District has been investigated by the Department of Education for this issue; a complaint was filed last year and withdrawn after the district said it would reconsider its decision to close the school.

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