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U.S. Dept. of Education opens discrimination investigation at Alabama middle school

A math teacher is accused of discrimination and retaliation against a Black student.

(STOCK)

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the Talladega County school system over allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation.

Earlier this week, Jeffrey Wilson, who filed the complaint, told CBS-42 that he filed a federal complaint with OCR after his son, Brayden, a 7th-grader, experienced racial discrimination by his math teacher at B.B. Comer Middle School. He provided the station with emails, including a letter from OCR informing Wilson that an investigation into his allegations was underway. 

According to that letter from OCR, there are two primary complaints: 1. That Brayden suffered discrimination based on his race, and 2. Wilson, as the complainant, was retaliated against after raising the issues. 

“The complainant alleged that the student is one of just a few Black children in his mathematics class and that the white children in this class are not treated the same way the student has been treated — they have not been threatened with detention, yelled at in front of peers, or had grades withheld or changed,” the OCR letter reads.  

Wilson told the station that he and his wife became concerned when Brayden told them he wasn’t learning much in his math class. When they requested a parent-teacher conference, Wilson said the math teacher berated Brayden in front of other students, demanding to know the reason for the conference. 

Following the conference, Wilson said the teacher changed several of Brayden’s grades from As to Fs. And then he began to arbitrarily punish Brayden without cause. 

A former school custodian also told Wilson — and reported to the school — that the math teacher made racist comments about students, including Brayden, demanding to know why a white female student was sitting with “brown boys.”

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The OCR has made no determination on the merits of Wilson’s claims, and its website notes that the office is currently investigating dozens of other discrimination claims in Alabama schools. 

Talladega school officials declined to comment on the allegations. 

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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