Who is Sharyn Briscoe? Black Atlanta school principal allegedly segregates students by race
A Black Atlanta mother filed a federal complaint against her daughter's primary school for allegedly racially segregating students and teaching Black and White students in different classrooms, news outlets reported on Tuesday, August 11.
It's the latest in a long line of incidents where American schools have been dragged into the racism debate. In a shocking incident in March, a five-year-old Black kindergarten student in Arkansas was made to unclog a toilet full of feces with his bare hands by his teacher for using "too much toilet paper". In April, the video of an Arizona middle school employee who used the N-word while ironically asking students not to use the racial slur went viral. The same month, a California teacher asked parents to come at her in a Zoom rant and said Whites 'get everything'.
Kila Posey, who slammed Mary Lin Elementary School, claimed that principal Sharyn Briscoe, who is also Black, informed her that the practice was put in place because she thought it was in the pupils' best interests.
Who is Sharyn Briscoe?
Sharyn Briscoe is the principal at Atlanta Public Schools. According to her LinkedIn profile, she was educated in Spelman College, a historically Black liberal arts college, also in Atlanta. The school website states that Briscoe traveled to Atlanta from New Jersey to attend Spelman College and Georgia State University. She worked as an elementary teacher, model teacher leader, assistant principal, and principal before joining the Morris Brandon team in 2013. Spending time with the students and seeing them succeed is Briscoe's favorite part of her job. TJ and Marley, her two sons, live with her in Candler Park.
Last year, Kila Posey learned that the elementary school will divide Black students into two classrooms, each with two instructors, and White students into six classrooms, each with six teachers. When Principal Sharyn Briscoe allegedly implemented the policy last year, Posey objected, the Atlanta Black Star reported. “First, it was just disbelief that I was having this conversation in 2020 with a person that looks just like me — a Black woman,” Posey said. “It’s segregating classrooms. You cannot segregate classrooms. You can’t do it.” Poesy herself is the vice president of operations for the parent-teacher association, according to the school website.
'I wish we had more Black kids'
After contacting Briscoe to request that her daughter be placed in a specific classroom with a specific teacher, she found out about the separation. Briscoe responded it wouldn't work since the teacher's classroom wasn't designed for Black pupils, according to Posey. According to the Daily Mail, Posey, recalling her conversation with Briscoe, said: "She said that’s not one of the Black classes, and I immediately said, ‘What does that mean?’ I was confused. I asked for more clarification. I was like, 'We have those in the school?' And she proceeded to say, 'Yes. I have decided that I’m going to place all of the Black students in two classes'."
Posey then secretly taped a phone conversation with an anonymous school administrator, who was overheard saying, "I just wish we had more Black kids, and then some of them are in a class because of the services that they need." No other details about the 'services' the administrator was referring to were provided.
Posey claims she learned about segregation when she asked for her child to be placed in a teacher's classroom with only White students. She said that Briscoe told her that her child would be segregated in class. "I explained to her she shouldn't be isolated or punished because I'm unwilling to go along with your illegal and unethical practice," Posey said. She then made contact with the assistant principal, who is said to have justified the situation.
'Both Black and White parents would be upset'
Posey has filed a discrimination complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education, alleging that the scenario violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. "Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that you cannot treat one group of people differently based upon race, and that is what is going on at Mary Lin," Posey's attorney Sharese Shields said.
Black children at Mary Lin Elementary School were allegedly separated into two classes with two different teachers. According to reports, the White children were divided into six classes, each with a different teacher. Atlanta Public Schools stated WSBTV that the district's investigation into the allegations is complete and that it has taken action. It did not refute Posey's assertions.
"Atlanta public schools does not condone the assigning of students to classrooms based on race. The district conducted a review of the allegations. Appropriate actions were taken to address the issue and the matter was closed," said a district spokesperson, without specifying what those actions were. But Poesy was not satisfied. “My community, had they known about this, would probably be extremely upset. Not just the Black parents but also White parents,” Posey said, according to WSBTV. The Department of Education is investigating the matter.
About 73 percent of Mary Lin's students are White, 10 percent are Black, and the remaining students are bi-racial. The school has a good academic reputation and is listed as Georgia's 29th best primary school, with 1,205 other schools ahead of it.