Resegregation Is Hardly a 'Choice,' Say Parents in Alabama District

     MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) - An Alabama school district is resegregating its schools under the guise of "parent choice," parents claim in Federal Court.
     Lead plaintiff John Johnson sued the Troy City Board of Education, the five members of the school board, Superintendent Lee Hicks and Troy Elementary School Principal Teresa Riley Sims, on his own behalf and for his son.
     Johnson et al. claim the Troy School District has a history of intentionally discriminating against African-American students, and despite litigation continues racially segregating its classrooms in grades K through six.
     The city school system serves about 2,087 students, 62 percent of them African-American.
     Johnson claims the re-segregation is disguised as a "parent choice" policy, which allows parents of children in grades K through six to choose their child's teacher and what students they want in the same classroom as their child.
     "In a few instances the Troy City School District disregarded requests by Caucasian parents to place their child with African-American teachers," the complaint states. "Moreover, the Troy City School District purposely created a racially engineered classroom setting that consisted of ... a total of 12 all African-American classes" for the 2012-2013 school year. Just one such class existed during the 2008-2009 school year, the parents say.
     Parents claim the re-segregation was evident immediately after the policy was instituted, when "parent choice" resulted in the creation of six all African-American classrooms, grades K to 2, during the 2009-2010 school year; seven all African-American classrooms, grades K to 2, during the 2010-2011 school year; then 18 all African-American classrooms grades K through six.
     "During the 2009-2010 academic year, 80 percent of the all African-American classes for that school year were taught by African-American teachers," the lawsuit states. "This occurred despite the fact that African-American teachers consist of only 22 percent of the teacher pool for the Troy City School District.
     "Therefore, not only are African-American students being tracked and segregated on the basis of their race as early as kindergarten, but African-American teachers are being tracked and prohibited from teaching in racially mixed classrooms."
     The parents want the "parents choice" policy enjoined as unconstitutional.
     They are represented by Eric Hutchins of Alexander, Ala.