Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Minority Forum at Fletcher Gets Mixed Parent Reaction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Minority Forum at Fletcher Gets Mixed Parent Reaction

Article excerpt

JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- A broad range of views was expressed

Thursday at a Fletcher Middle School forum for parents of

minority students.

The meeting, which attracted more than 30 parents, was aimed at

expanding communication with minority parents, increasing

minority student enrollment and discussing academic achievement.

"We want to get the parents more involved in the school. We

want to listen to them and learn how we can communicate better

and we want to let them know how much we need them," Vice

Principal Beverly Sells said.

Teachers explained what is offered in their classes, while

Sells discussed extracurricular activities at the school.

The school's 10 percent minority enrollment complies with the

1990 agreement between the Duval County School Board and the

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But

retiring Principal Bill English said a 10 percent minority

enrollment could result in some classes at the school of

all-white students.

"With 10 percent, there is a dominating influence and we want

to make sure we are sensitive to minorities," he said. "It would

be the same at Raines [High School], if the ratio were simular.

We want to eliminate racial polarization."

The student's perception of the school is the most important

factor in determining success in school, English said. The

principal said the parents' attitude toward the school affects

the student's attitude. English also used the meeting to collect

feedback from minority parents about the school -- good or bad

-- and how to fix the problems.

Some parents were unhappy that the meeting had not been held

earlier in the school year, while others were put off at being

singled out as a minority.

"Why did you have to have a minority meeting?" asked Linda

Riley, whose daughter attends Fletcher Middle. "There is an

underlying message there."

Some complaints that there was a lack of communication between

the school and parents. But Frances McLaurin, who has a daughter

at the school, disagreed.

"The network's there. The system is in the place," she said. …

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