Shelby County Schools Under Federal Civil Rights Investigation

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A federal civil rights investigation into Shelby County Schools' (SCS) treatment of immigrant children has been launched by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The alleged bias is related to how SCS placed migrant children from Central America. A complaint filed in February by the Exchange Club Family Center alleged that those children were blocked from attending traditional Memphis high schools and were instead placed into an English language program at the now-defunct Messick Adult Center.

The Exchange Club's complaint expressed concern about the limited hours of that English program, as well as its lack of structure. The complaint also said that many of those children would prefer to attend a traditional high school. 

In May, an Associated Press investigation found that Shelby County Schools was one of at least 35 districts in 14 states where unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras had been placed into alternative language programs rather than traditional high schools.

When contacted for comment, a spokesperson for SCS simply replied, "It is our practice not to comment on the existence/nonexistence of any inquiry from the Office of Civil Rights."


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