The Department of Education launched an investigation into a South Carolina middle school over an alleged incident of racial discrimination, the Daily Caller learned exclusively.
The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights notified the concerned parent group “Parents Defending Education” that it began investigating Pickens Middle School after the group filed a complaint April 21. Parents Defending Education believes the middle school violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination in government-funded spaces.
On April 11, Pickens Middle School invited all students to a “special virtual presentation” with guest speaker Adrienne Young. The same day, minority students received a letter inviting them to attend minority-only lunches with the same speaker.
The segregated sessions offered a space for African-American students, Hispanic students and “Two or More Background” students. White and Asian students did not have a specific session.
The lunches were designed to give Young “a chance to talk with students about how to cope with being a student in a predominately white school,” according to an email from the district.
Pickens Middle School, SC held racially segregated lunch meetings to “talk with students about how to cope with being a student in a predominantly white school.” Students were treated to “pizza and dessert.” pic.twitter.com/C1qqzBUy5A
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) April 24, 2022
Darian Byrd, a spokesman for the School District of Pickens County, said the “original intention” was to use the small groups “as an opportunity for students of specific minority groups to ask questions to the speaker surrounded by others like them – to create an increased sense of security for them to be open and candid.”
The school ultimately opened the sessions up to all students following parental backlash. (RELATED: South Carolina Middle School Forced To Open Minority-Only Coping Session To All Students After Parent Complaints)
Byrd reiterated to the Daily Caller that “the sessions were open to all students who wished to attend.”
“There was plenty of spaces and opportunities for all who desired to attend the lunch break out sessions – all who attended did so voluntarily,” Byrd said.
Nicole Neily, the president of Parents Defending Education, told the Daily Caller that regardless of the school’s decision to open the sessions up to white students, the district still violated Title IV rules.
“Treating students differently on the basis of skin color was wrong in the 1950s, and it’s still wrong today, regardless of the reason for doing so,” Neily said. “The Obama Administration’s department of education found that a racially-exclusive assembly in 2015 was a violation of Title VI, and we hope that the Biden Administration’s department of education recognizes this precedent as they investigate this most recent incident.”