The federal Department of Education (ED) is investigating complaints that a series of school closings in North Carolina violated the civil rights of the district's students, reports the Charlotte Observer.
An ED spokesman said that the complaints were filed following the closure of 10 schools and changes to programs at two dozen others in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS). Most of the students who attend the schools subject to closings or changes are black or Hispanic and come from low-income areas.
According to the news source, if CMS is found to have violated civil rights laws, the ED could block the district from getting federal money or initiate a probe from the Department of Justice.
CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman defended the decision, telling the source that the closures and changes were determined by "empty classrooms and/or academic weakness." Addressing charges of racism, he said that the district dedicates a great deal of money to improving teaching at schools with high minority populations, claiming that the school closures would allow this spending to continue despite upcoming budget cuts.