This week we learned the U.S. Department of Education selected Pinellas County Schools for an Office for Civil Rights compliance review to ensure the school district does not discriminate against African American students with respect to providing access to courses and programs. The review will also examine how Pinellas County Schools ensures all students develop skills for success in college and career.
We welcome the opportunity to work with the Department of Education. The federal review of district wide practices will hopefully advance ongoing efforts to eliminate the achievement gap and increase the academic success of all students.
We devoted significant resources in recent years to improve our lowest performing elementary schools, which have predominantly African American populations. Established efforts include preferred hiring practices to increase the number of effective teachers working with our most struggling students, teaching partners to support classroom learning, and community partnerships to provide extensive social services to meet the personal needs of students.
At the secondary level, we’ve aggressively focused on increasing access to rigorous courses and improving college and career readiness among African American students. Data show rising SAT scores, more students taking and passing advanced placement exams to earn college credit, and dramatic increases in our graduation rate. Participation in career education and industry certifications has soared.
As we learn from our school district’s history and make changes to improve learning for all students, it is my sincere hope to see discord from past decisions turn into collective action and advancement.
Real progress is being made. More must be done.
We recruited Antonio Burt, a nationally renowned turnaround expert to marshal our efforts and produce real change for our students and parents. Our School Board members will discuss additional changes at the April 12 School Board workshop.
We absolutely respect the concerns parents and community leaders have about the importance of education in Pinellas County. As a community we must remain dedicated and work together to support all teachers, staff, parents and students through the road ahead to graduation and beyond.
Michael A. Grego, Ed.D., Superintendent, Pinellas County Schools