A school in New York City has come under fire from parents after it announced plans to racially segregate its students.
The Little Red School, which is a private school located in the West Village, reportedly told parents in June that minority middle-school children will be placed in the same homerooms in the autumn.
Homerooms are an integral part of the schools day in the US, with each grade having two between their 40 students, with pupils spending around 30 per cent of the school day in the rooms.
The New York Post reports that the school's director Philips Kassen implemented the policy during the 2017-18 year for both seventh and eighth graders, and there was an intention to extend it to the sixth grade in September.
The high-profile institute, which costs $45,485-per-year to attend, boasts the offspring of David Schwimmer and Sofia Coppola among its pupils.
Upon learning of this controversial new policy, parents began to revolt and express how unhappy they were.
An anonymous father told The Post:
My daughter who is 11 was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy. They are talking about separating by colour.'
And I was thinking how antiquated is this? This is backwards. It’s almost like segregation now.
Another claimed that for the past three years all but one of the 10 non-white students in her child's class had been assigned the same room in lower school.
Elsewhere, another father claimed that the policy was in effect during the entire time his daughter was enrolled at the school, but was more noticeable in the 16-17 year.
He is quoted as saying:
They weren’t very transparent about it.
It was my daughter who immediately noticed that all the kids of colour were in one class.
If you’re going to have that policy, you need to be upfront.
We realised she was placed with all the minority students, but none of her friends. It was peculiar that they didn’t spread everyone out.
It is understood that more people became aware of the policy in June after parents raised concerns which, resulted in Kassan sending an email saying that it would be reviewed.
Just over a week later, he sent another email informing parents that the policy would be ended, but did add they would keep "race as a critical but not primary, determinant".
In response, Amanda Uhry, the president of the Manhattan Private School Advisors, told the Post:
How could a school possibly do that? I don’t know if I would necessarily send a child to a school that separated by race.
1964, remember that? We had segregation in America. What is this? It’s segregation!
It has been suggested that policies like this are implemented in order to help minority students feel less isolated by giving them safety in numbers.
Other schools reportedly have 'affinity groups' four times a year, where students break into groups they feel comfortable with for 45 minutes - but this is not seen as significant as the Little Red School House's policy.
One educational consultant in New York said this type of solution would only be temporary and would fail to address larger issues.
The intention is to make students of colour feel that they are a critical mass and have a voice. And if that results in clumping kids and creating some all-white classrooms, it’s a trade-off worth making.
The problem is, there still isn’t enough diversity in New York City independent schools. This is just a band-aid. You need to advocate for more financial aid and diversity.
It’s almost like sometimes, in trying to do the right thing, they go too far. They are trying so hard to equalize everything that they end up making some of those people in the groups more uncomfortable.