The Madison Metropolitan School District is facing criticism from some parents after dividing virtual spaces by race to discuss police brutality and violence.
Madison West High School sent out emails last week inviting parents to meetings designed to discuss the issues of police brutality following the verdict of the Derek Chauvin trial and the death of Ma’Khia Bryant last week, which contained two different Zoom links — one for parents of color and one for white parents.
The separation is facing contention from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) — the conservative group that repeatedly tried to strike down Gov. Evers mask mandates — on the basis that “racially segregated discussion groups are plainly unconstitutional.”
“Racial segregation is never beneficial or benign. It is our hope that the leadership at MMSD take this opportunity to commit the school district to the principle of equality and end all racial segregation immediately,” WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington said in a statement.
However, according to a statement by district representative Tim LeMonds, the separation was based on the Affinity Group model, which LeMonds described as a method for those with a common identity to connect in situations where their identities might be marginalized.
The statement alleged the conversations would “build strong, trusting relationships” so that “students and families can openly share and dialog around such complex issues.”
The email with separate links was only sent to families who identify as families of color, multiracial or blended, according to LeMonds.
In a letter sent to the school, WILL said the arguments Madison West uses “are no different from those advanced by the proponents of Jim Crow.”
“Madison West’s justifications for racial segregation are indistinguishable from the segregationists of the 1950s,” WILL wrote in its letter to the school.
However, LeMonds said that the email was “unfortunately a poorly worded message” sent out by staff.
“Although their intent was to provide families an opportunity to process their emotions and feelings related to current events, the language used to organize the discussion was less than sensitive,” he said.