Parents testify in trial on Pitt County schools

The Associated Press

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GREENVILLE — The parents of current or former Pitt County Schools students say their children succeeded in school despite what they said was racial discrimination by teachers and administrators.

The Daily Reflector reports the four parents testified Thursday in a trial the school system hopes will prove it treats all students equally regardless of race. The attorney for the school system rested his case on Wednesday.

Lawyers for the Pitt County Coalition to Educate Black Children began their arguments Thursday. The coalition maintains that the school system needs to do more to ensure equal numbers of black and white students attend the county's schools.

Pitt County is looking to be released from a 1970 court order that required officials to desegregate the schools. The order lay dormant until a group of Greenville parents challenged the 2005 redistricting plan.

Ozie Hall Jr., one of the parents who testified, said the group formed after complaints from parents about treatment of black children in the school system.

Hall said the coalition had advocated for culturally responsive teaching which involves educating all teachers about different ethnicities.

"The training changes teachers' minds and attitudes," he said. "The teachers (don't) even realize they have bias toward African-American children."

Christopher Taylor, a coalition member who works at a marketing company and as a youth pastor, testified that in the 12 years his children have gone to Pitt County Schools, they have only had three black teachers and that in order to get any information on his children's progress from the white teachers he has to "belittle" himself.

"As a father, I shouldn't be ignored," he said.

Both sides are expected to present their closing arguments on Friday.