Local Groups File Federal Discrimination Complaint Against WSFC Schools

Local Groups File Federal Discrimination Complaint Against WSFC Schools

5:21pm Aug 14, 2018
Community organizers speak at a news conference at the local chapter of the NAACP in Winston-Salem. Crystal Rook and Kedrick Easter wore T-shirts to support Ashley Academy. KERI BROWN/WFDD

A federal complaint alleges racial discrimination is taking place at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, including the Board of Education. At issue is the condition of an elementary school building.

The Action4Ashley Coalition filed the complaint. It hinges on how the district responded to concerns over mold and air quality at Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies. The school is in the eastern part of the city and serves a predominately black and Latino population. It’s an older building that sits in a low-lying area near a creek.

For years, teachers and community members say they’ve voiced their concerns about poor building conditions. They also claim it’s causing a high number of absent children and teacher illnesses.

“We’ve been trying to get the school board to build a new school. They are ignoring our pleas,” says Crystal Rook, a community activist and organizer. “Our kids [and] teachers shouldn’t have to go back into that school.”

Kedrick Easter lives near Ashley Academy. He first became aware of some the issues in the school when he volunteered at a luncheon for teachers.

“I visited the school and I couldn’t believe how musty it smelled. These kids deserve better," he says. "Ashley already faces challenges with poverty, and having conditions like this doesn’t help. They’re putting a band-aid on a problem that needs fixed now.”

Winston-Salem NAACP Chapter president Rev. Alvin Carlisle says he believes priority is given to projects that serve a more white, affluent community.

“Why build new buildings when you have a sick building that you haven’t remedied?" he says. "How can you build a new building when you have a current building that’s making people sick?”

The Winston-Salem Forsyth County school system says it can’t comment on pending legal proceedings. But officials say they’ve made several improvements at Ashley Academy in recent months. Those include new flooring, an updated HVAC system and air quality testing.

The complaint asks the district for a new school. It also asks it to survey other schools in the county to see if there are similar problems elsewhere.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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