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NAACP, School Board agree on more meetings and progress reports in desegregation case

STORY BY GEORGE ANDREASSI (Week of December 24, 2020)

The Indian River County NAACP and the School Board agreed to meet more often and collaborate on court-ordered progress reports in an effort to improve the academic performance of African-American students and resolve a 53-year-old federal desegregation order.

But the quarterly report being submitted to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams won’t include key test scores and disciplinary data from the end of last school year and the beginning of this school year because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional in-class teaching.

The deadline for the report was pushed back to December from September because of the pandemic.

NAACP leaders met last Tuesday with the School Board, which features two new members who campaigned on resolving the desegregation case, to discuss how to work together in 2021.

The School Board and NAACP leaders agreed the December report should include an update on the district’s efforts to recruit and retain African-American teachers.

The report will also list steps the school district has undertaken to improve the academic performance of African-American students, but it won’t include data that would indicate whether the efforts have improved results.

The School Board and NAACP leaders also agreed to meet again on Jan. 26 to review the annual report proposed by the district’s Equity Committee, which consists of two NAACP leaders and two school officials.

“We have some agreement,” said School Board Chairman Brian Barefoot. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress. We will get started in the New Year on a new path.”