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Charges Of 'Re-Segregation' At N.C. High School

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Charges Of 'Re-Segregation' At N.C. High School

Charges Of 'Re-Segregation' At N.C. High School

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Dave Dewitt, of North Carolina Public Radio, reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF P.A. SYSTEM)

DAVE DEWITT: It's the end of a long day at Goldsboro High School, and students fill the narrow hallways on the way to buses, practices or home. Goldsboro is a classic American high school: white columns, two-story brick facade, transoms over the classroom doors. Sixty years ago - and just up the stairs at the end of the hallway - a teenage Carl Kasell took drama from an energetic teacher named Andy Griffith. Now, students like Michael King roam these hallways.

MONTAGNE: And all the students here at Goldsboro High School have had a good opportunity to do anything they wanted to. Some just choose not to take the opportunity.

DEWITT: Patricia Burden is the principal at Goldsboro High School.

MONTAGNE: I think you have students who truly believe that this is the way that I live, and this is the way I will continue to live. And so therefore, they do not have the broad perspective on the fact that it does not have to be this way.

DEWITT: Reverend William Barber is a pastor at the Greenleaf Christian Church in town, and he's also the president of the North Carolina NAACP.

MONTAGNE: We have apartheid education in Wayne County.

DEWITT: Barber and the NAACP filed a complaint against the Wayne County Schools in December. They say the school board violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it created attendance areas that put the majority of the poor black students in one school zone, and failed to provide students in that zone with equal educational opportunities.

MONTAGNE: This is an ugly case, a wrong case - we believe an illegal case. And the NAACP and our friends, we had to challenge it because it is so endemic of what can happen when you leave local school boards alone in the South to do their business.

DEWITT: Barber calls the school board's actions discrimination. And he also uses another word: re-segregation.

MONTAGNE: And I don't even know if that's a word in the dictionary, to be honest with you, re-segregation. It may be.

DEWITT: Rick Pridgen is the chair of the school board in Wayne County.

MONTAGNE: The schools have nothing to do with, and can't change, the demographics of the city. You know, the schools - has absolutely nothing to do with where people choose to live.

DEWITT: Mark Dorosin is a senior attorney with the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina.

MONTAGNE: The Wayne County case is particularly egregious. But it is also symbolic, or emblematic, of the trends we're seeing, not only across North Carolina but across the country.

DEWITT: For NPR News, I'm Dave Dewitt in Durham, North Carolina.

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