WILMINGTON -- They say New Hanover County's school system is still segregated. The NAACP has harsh criticisms over diversity in the county's three magnet schools. Members of the local chapter of the NAACP are demanding more diversity within the county's magnet schools. They say their concerns are not being taken seriously. New Hanover County NAACP Vice President Rev. Hudson Barksdale says the three magnet schools in New Hanover County are worse off now than before the school board re-drew district lines this year. The goal was to increase diversity in the county's elementary schools. Rev. Hudson said, "These magnet schools were designed to bring in whites, quite frankly, from suburban areas so we'd have a more diversified school system. The reality is that because of redistricting, the school board." "They have decided we are going to have segregated schools. They got their wish, the New Hanover County schools are segregated now." School Superintendent Al Lerch acknowledges the number of minority students in the three magnet schools remains virtually unchanged. He says the main reason is the lottery system, which filled the 100 spots per school in a random drawing. Next year the school system will use a weighted lottery, taking into account economic diversity, parents' education and where kids live. Lerch said, "That will allow us to attract more diversity. That's the whole goal. The goal is to attract diversity to the magnet schools." The un-weighted lottery won't happen until next year. The NAACP wants change now. "Sooner or later the same problems that plagued separate but equal is going to plague us. One of those problems was that resources were not equally allocated," Rev. Hudson said. At the last meeting he asked the school board for a meeting. But the board voted 5-to-2 against meeting with the NAACP, citing their policy of not meeting with any group. The NAACP has given the New Hanover County School Board until October 10 to sit down for a face-to-face meeting to discuss solutions to the problem. They say if they do not get a response by then, they will pursue another course of action.
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