Thinking about running for eighth grade class president at Mississippi's Nettleton Middle School? Are you white? Because only white kids can run for president. Black kids can be vice-president, though! But only black kids. Update: They changed the policy.
A few days ago, Nettleton Middle School students brought home the following memo, which spells out the requirements for students who want to run for class office and was provided to blogger Suzy Richardson by a parent:
Okay, so obtain 10 signatures from classmates... check. Maintain a B average... check. Have "good disciplinary status and moral character"... okay, I haven't sexted anyone recently, check. White... ch... what? They must mean, like... wears white clothing? Right? Or like... the color... of their lockers? Right? Uh, well, not really.
When one Nettleton mother approached the school board, wondering—among other things, obviously—which "category" her mixed-race kids (Italian and Native American) fell under, she was told the following:
They told me that they "Go by the mother's race b/c with minorities the father isn't generally in the home." They also told me that " a city court order is the reason why it is this way."
Ah. Richardson, who first reported this story on her website MixedandHappy.com, later called the school vice principal, and confirmed that the policy is in place. The Smoking Gun independently received a copy of the same memo but were unable to reach school officials.
It's still unclear what the reasoning behind the rules is—some kind of utterly misguided attempt at affirmative action, so that the student government won't end up entirely white (the school is around 72 percent white, according to The Smoking Gun)? Plain old racism? Hilarious satire? Update: Some Mississippians have asked me to point out that two of the four administrators listed on the school website are black, which... could mean a lot of things.
The school has since put up a "media statement" on its website, which reads:
"Student elections have not yet been held at Nettleton Middle School for the 2010-2011 school term. The processes and procedures for student elections are under review. We are reviewing the origin of these processes, historical applications, compliance issues, as well as current implications and ramifications. A statement will be released when review of these processes is complete."
UPDATE: After completing their review, Nettleton Middle School has quashed their segregated student government policy. It was all a misguided attempt at affirmative action, they say, and now it's gone, they said in a press release:
After being notified of a grievance regarding upcoming student elections at Nettleton Middle School, research was conducted that evidenced that the current practices and procedures for student elections have existed for over 30 years. It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body. It is felt the intent of these election procedures was to ensure African-American representation in each student office category through an annual rotation basis.
It is our hope and desire that these practices and procedures are no longer needed to help ensure minority representation and involvement. Furthermore, the Nettleton School District acknowledges and embraces the fact that we are growing in ethnic diversity and that the classifications of Caucasian and African-American no longer reflect our entire student body.
Therefore, beginning immediately, student elections at Nettleton School District will no longer have a classification of ethnicity. It is our intent that each student has equal opportunity to seek election for any student office. Future student elections will be monitored to help ensure that this change in process and procedure does not adversely affect minority representation in student elections.