Maumelle High School had an assembly Wednesday morning featuring local youth pastor Dante Shelton speaking to students about gang violence and his own story. The strange part, according to a report from KATV’s Janelle Lilley: the school singled out only black students to attend the assembly:
Shortly after arriving at school Wednesday morning, an announcement over the public announcement system instructed black freshmen to go to the auditorium for an assembly. Arron Perkins says his sister was in math class.
“When I talked to her about it, she felt that it was very racist. Someone in the group asked, why are there no other kids except for African-American kids here,” said Perkins. … According to the Pulaski County Special School District it is part of “the district’s court-ordered desegregation efforts which encourage programs and opportunities tailored to minority students.”
The ACLU sent an email to the school in search of more information and questioning the assembly as a possible violation of student rights.
“What does that leave kids that are mixed? ‘Oh, you know, that’s my other side that’s calling, let me go learn about gang-banging.’ To me it’s just wrong on every level,” said Perkins who is biracial.
The Pulaski County Special School District provided a statement to KATV:
Yesterday, at an assembly during activities period at Maumelle High School, local pastor Dante Shelton was invited to speak to a group of African-American, ninth-grade students. He shared his personal success story and encouraged students to make good choices. Freshmen students were identified by the school because it is a time of transition when they are more easily influenced. Black students were selected with the intent that the assembly would be an extension of the district’s court-ordered desegregation efforts, which encourage programs and opportunities tailored to minority students. Students who did not want to attend the program were not required to do so, and the response to Mr. Shelton’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive. The Pulaski County Special School District regrets that this inspirational program was not made available to all students and in the future will work to ensure that when outside speakers are brought into a school that all students are included.
The ACLU sent the following letter to the school about the incident: