LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - In 2008, a letter was written to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights by a concerned Loachapoka resident.
This resident was worried African American high schools students did not have an equal opportunity to participate in Advanced Placement courses.
"It wasn't just one location that didn't have Advanced Placement courses. We have four high schools and two of which didn't have any, one that had one or two, then Smith Station, being the larger school, it's easier to set AP courses up in a larger school," explains Dr. Mac McCoy, Lee County Superintendent of Schools.
After a five year investigation, the Lee County School District entered a resolution agreement to ensure that all students are provided equal access to higher-level courses in order to prepare them for their future.
"We said well, this would be good for all students to increase the rigor and the curriculum in Lee County. We'll just use this as a catalyst to make some things happen for us," says McCoy.
Now that an agreement has been reached, Lee County is taking a number of steps to make these classes are more available to all students within the system."
Under the agreement the district will:
- Develop a comprehensive district-wide plan for addressing the under representation of African American students in AP and higher level courses;
- Identify any barriers to African American students' participation in AP and higher level courses, and ensure that African American students have an equal opportunity for participation in the courses;
- Permit students to participate in distance learning opportunities at schools providing more AP and higher level options;
- Establish dual-enrollment courses with the local community college for students at the predominantly African American high school and provide transportation for all students who elect to take dual-enrollment courses;
- Encourage students at all of the district's elementary, middle, and high schools to aspire to attend college, and to participate in AP and higher level courses.
"It's going to help us K-12 because it's just not a focus for our middle school and high school students," says McCoy, "We have to make sure we're preparing those students in kindergarten. It's going to increase everything for us academically."