LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WSMV) – A Tennessee high school is stirring up controversy for a policy that separates students at lunch based on their grades. Specifically, La Vergne High School student who are making poor grades are separated from their classmates and made to eat lunch in a separate location.
Paul Morecroft, who has a special needs daughter in the 10th grade, said, “To me, it’s considered separation, because you have your special needs kids and the kids getting the good grades on one side, and the kids getting below an 80 on the other side. ” He called the policy a “civil rights violation and segregation, no doubt.”
School leaders say La Vergne High has a split lunch period, half academic intervention to help students who may be struggling in a subject and half lunch; it’s been in practice for two years as part of statewide pilot program.
James Evans, spokesman for Rutherford County Schools, said, “They are not segregating them in the traditional sense. If the kids’ scores are low in certain areas, they are getting help in that area. If you want to label that segregation, then that’s not the correct way to label it.”
Some schools have chosen to work the intervention program into the regular school day whereas La Vergne High has chosen the split-lunch concept where some students go to the auditorium for a learning lab beforehand.
Ximena Jinenez, an 11th grade student, finds the program beneficial. “I don’t think it’s bad, it’s good. We all need it. We need that little help in our lives,” she said.
School officials attribute a higher graduation rate to the program. Since it was instituted the graduation rate has gone from 77 percent to almost 90 percent.