US Department of Education conducts civil rights review of Allentown School District

Author: , Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published: Jun 26 2013 05:03:45 PM EDT   Updated On: Jun 26 2013 05:26:28 PM EDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Is the Allentown School District discriminating against certain students? The U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether the district is doing enough to help Hispanic students reach the same destination.

Superintendent Russ Mayo said the civil rights review is assessing if students, especially where English is a second language, are being denied equal access to advanced placement, honors and other talented and gifted programs.

"One thing it can't be is because we discourage it. That can't be the answer," Mayo said.

If there is a problem, Mayo said the district will fix it, especially considering that minorities are the majority. They make up 87 percent of all students.

The U.S. Department of Education said a review like this is based off statistical data and information from students, advocacy groups, media and community organizations.

The review is only the latest blow to the district. William Allen High School's popular and first-ever black principal, Shannon Mayfield, just resigned for unknown reasons after only one year.

Another popular minority administrator left the previous month.

Board member Ce Ce Gerlach called it a troubling trend.

"Something has to be wrong to have a pattern of people leaving in the months of each other," Gerlach said.

Mayo said it's a catch 22. The district, which has cut hundreds of jobs, is cash-strapped, hampering salaries. It's money many agree could help hire those to lead students of all races to their educational goal.