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San Jose District Accused Of Racism Over Photo Displays In Schools

SAN JOSE (CBS 5) -- Controversy is brewing at a San Jose school district over displays of African-American and Latino boys placed in teacher's meeting rooms. While the district has called it a way to make sure no child is left behind, some parents are calling it racism.

A parent contacted CBS 5 after discovering the display inside a meeting room at Julia Baldwin Elementary. The display consisted of photos of African-American and Latino boys, next to the slogan "Keeping Our Black and Brown Boys in Mind."

The pictures have been posted since the start of the school year.

We're told that Baldin principal Joyce Millner instructed her staff the pictures would go up. Millner, who is African-American, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday night.

The viewer, who has remained anonymous, called the display insulting, "…in such a racist and demeaning manner under the guise of promoting education development!"

The district said they are trying to close the achievement gap of African-American and Latino boys compared to Caucasian and Asian-American boys.

Teachers at all 19 campuses in the Oak Grove School District were asked to identify black and Latino boys, to boost them from basic to advanced.

CBS 5 has learned teachers held three separate meetings with administrators, fighting to remove the pictures and slogan. But parents were not informed their kids' photos were used in the display.

The president of the teacher's union declined an on-camera interview. But she said by phone teachers would never photograph and post the pictures of special needs kids. When asked about the display, she said to ask the district.

Oak Grove Superintendent Tony Garcia also declined an on-camera interview. In an e-mail to CBS 5, he said, "We are proud of the fact that we openly discuss race and its impact on student success…" He went on to say that the district has specific focal students that all staff strives to know by name and face, to close the achievement gap.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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