02/05/10 — Justice Department will investigate NAACP claim

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Justice Department will investigate NAACP claim

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 5, 2010 1:46 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice will investigate the NAACP's claim against Wayne County Public Schools, NAACP officials announced Thursday.

Wayne County school officials said today they are confident the matter will be resolved satisfactorily.

The Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, said at a press conference in Raleigh he had received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice indicating that it would look into the complaint that was filed in December, alleging resegregation and unconstitutional practices.

The complaint had been filed with the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and the state Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent, said today that Barber's announcement was "nothing new."

"We have received a copy of the complaint," Taylor said this morning. "We knew from the beginning the Department of Justice would be involved. The Office of Civil Rights has jurisdiction in this matter and the Department of Justice will be assisting them.

"It was no new revelation to us that this was occurring and we look forward to providing the factual data to the OCR and the Deptartment of Justice to help resolve this matter."

Initially, Taylor said, the school system had been unaware of the complaint.

"We were never notified by the NAACP and Rev. Barber about the complaint being filed," he said. "We found out from the media and no information was ever requested from us."

The district has since been notified by the Department of Justice and only obtained a copy of the complaint after submitting the request, Taylor said.

Taylor did not discuss details of the complaint's contents, except to say his office would comply with any requests from the Office of Civil Rights.

"In the past, with every complaint that's been filed with the OCR, they have been resolved successfully," he said. "We have a good working relationship with the OCR and look forward to working with them to resolve this matter at hand.

"I'm confident that we will be able to respond to every allegation and provide factual data to offset the allegations that have been made."

The superintendent said the investigation is in the beginning stages, and it may take several months, depending on what information is needed.

"Anyone can file a complaint," he said. "It's our responsibility to respond to it. This is nothing new to us. We have done this in the past, and we will fully cooperate with any data that is requested."