Florida Dept of Education Facing Civil Rights Complaint

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A civil rights organization is accusing the Florida Department of Education of discriminating against Hispanic and African-American children.

Officials with the Southern Poverty Law center announced this morning, during the National Association of Black Journalists' convention in Orlando, they are filing a civil right complaint against the state.

Local parents and activists support the action, which accuses educators of stereotyping students.

In the current education plan under consideration, the state would set a goal for 90% of Asian-American students and 88-percent of white students have to read at grade level by 2018.

But only 81% of Hispanic students and 74% of black students would be required to meet the same goal.

Opponents say the goals are setting up minority students for failure.

PUSH Director Gregory Dossie says, "These students are automatically going to be lumped together in one class and the teachers are not going to have high expectations so if you want to achieve more, you have to reach higher."

The Southern Poverty Law Center is filing the civil rights complaint with the US Department of Justice, claiming the goals are based purely on skin color.

Some Bay County Parents claim they've seen this type treatment for quite some time.

Some even attribute this year's falling school grades on teachers ignoring minority students' needs.

Angel Gilford is a mother of two 8-year-old twins. She says, "If they had a lot more patience up there, maybe we wouldn't have an f school, you know what i'm saying?"

Angela Gilford, who did not want to appear on camera, says the race issue extends beyond academic standards.

Gilford says, "They center them out more, you know what I'm saying? Say for instance, a Caucasion kid may be picking on another black kid. The black kid goes to the office, the other kid's still in the classroom."

Dossie says, "If you keep setting lower expectations and you don't do anything about it right before it's implemented, you know, once it's implemented then it's harder to retract it."

Bay District School Officials say they don't know anything about the complaint and didn't feel uncomfortable commenting.