TN School Officials Told To Falsify Student Disciplinary Codes To Avoid Red Flags

An email obtained by WTVF in Nashville, Tennesee shows that school officials were instructed to falsify student disciplinary codes, in order to avoid a federal investigation.

Nashville’s Metro School System has long been under scrutiny from the federal government for a disparity in student suspensions. While Black students account for less than half of the district’s student body, more than 70 percent of students suspended in the district are African-American.

In 2014 the school district implemented a new set of disciplinary codes. The codes were supposed to help the district minimize disparities by outlining various student behaviors, along with appropriate punishment for each.

According to WTVF:

The email surfaced after the principal at Nashville’s Hunters Lane High School was questioned about her handling of disciplinary data involving one student.

That principal, Susan Kessler, fired back with email evidence about what she called a “common practice” involving a district official who’s in charge of monitoring student discipline.

A copy of the email, which was sent to Kessler by Bruce Curtis, the district’s Director of School Discipline, shows that Curtis instructed school officials to change student disciplinary codes “in order to keep the school out of a possible OCR complaint.”

Here’s a screencap of the email, published by WTVF here.

Image credit: WTVF

Image credit: WTVF

The school district has been involved in numerous OCR (Office of Civil Rights) complaints before. The email suggests that rather than addressing the underlying issues of racial disparity within the school system, officials are falsifying data to make it look as though the district is improving, when really it is not.

The release of the email has rightly outraged parents and civil rights leaders.

Larry Woods, a civil rights attorney who has brought previous suits against the school district, told WTVF he believes:

 “The clear intent of the memo, of the email, is let’s avoid an Office of Civil Rights investigation. Let’s cover it up so we won’t get into trouble when OCR — Office of Civil Rights investigates us.”

Instead of expressing concern about what’s best for students, the email shows school officials are not only willing to allow students to be suspended for minor infractions, they’re also willing to make those infractions seem more serious than they were, in order to cover their own asses.

This email alone should be cause for the Office of Civil Rights to begin a new investigation into Metro Nashville Schools.

As it stands, we can only wonder how many students have been suspended without justification and how many suspension codes have been changed to cover up the fact that the school district is just as racist as ever.

Image credit: Nashville Public Schools