From correspondent Virginia Bridges
The Southern Poverty Law Center has threatened to file a federal complaint if the Durham Public Schools doesn’t immediately curb alleged discrimination against Latino students and their families.
Attorney Jerri Katzerman, director of educational advocacy for the Montgomery, Ala., based nonprofit civil rights organization, said the organization has spoken with hundreds of Hispanic families in Durham since last year.
“These children and parents report that they have limited access to languages interpreters, are unable to read and understand important school documents, and, most alarmingly, that students often experience a hostile environment where they are made to feel unwelcome and unwanted in their neighborhood schools,” Katzerman said in a Tuesday letter.
A DPS statement, provided by spokeswoman Tahira Stalberte, said the school system has referred the complaint to its attorneys and is investigating the claims. Efforts to rreach school board chairwoman Minnie Forte-Brown were unsuccessful.
“We are committed to providing appropriate services to all students in DPS and to complying with the requirements of federal law in serving students of all nationalities,” the school statement said.
The letter, which asks the school system to respond within 10 businesses days, indicates that if an agreement can’t be reached the law center will file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Look for more on this story coming Sunday in The Durham News.