UPDATE: Florence Branch NAACP F1S Zero-Tolerance Policy Complaint to the Dept of Ed Office for Civil Rights

September 14, 2023

The Florence Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People "NAACP "would like to take this opportunity to update the Florence Community on the status of its request of the United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to launch an investigation into Florence One Schools "Zero-Tolerance Policy." The Department of Education announced in September of 2022 the decision to launch an investigation in response to a Title VI Complaint filed by the Florence Branch. This investigation is a significant step in the nearly two-year battle against the district's discriminatory and harmful zero-tolerance policy.

In December of 2021, despite clear and overwhelming disapproval from community members, Florence One Schools Board of Trustees passed a zero-tolerance policy that made physical violence or fighting grounds for an automatic recommendation for expulsion to the Board. Prior to the passage of the policy, the Florence Branch of the NAACP sent a letter to the Board Members and the Superintendent highlighting its concerns about the harm such a policy would have on students, especially students of color. Specifically, the letter raised the tact that overwhelming data suggests that such policies fail to reduce violence and instead are disproportionately harmful to students of color. Despite this and many other efforts, the policy was passed and implemented immediately. Simultaneously, the Florence Branch received numerous complaints from parents and students about the impact of the policy. The Branch quickly raised these concerns with the then State Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, the Florence One Schools Board of Trustees, and the Florence One Schools Superintendent, Dr. Richard O'Malley, in a series of letters in 2022.

The Florence Branch of the NAACP reports to the Florence Community that the Branch's legal representation has provided the following update: "The United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is continuing its investigation into the Title VI Complaint against Florence One Schools. Florence One Schools has been compelled to provide data, and the Department of Education reports that they have received significant information from the district. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights welcomes any additional complaints or concerns. Parents and community members with complaints or concerns about Florence One Schools Zero-Tolerance Policy or any other concerns are encouraged to contact the Florence Branch of the NAACP."