Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Annette Thompson stands in front of Orchard Knob Middle School. Ms. Thompson is the president of the parent teacher student association and has concerns about the school.
Orchard Knob Middle School parents are upset that their children don't have current textbooks. One mother complained that students didn't get science books until April, just six weeks before school lets out for summer.
"They're setting our kids up for failure," said Annette Thompson, president of the school's PTSA. "How can you compete with the other people of the world if you don't have textbooks?"
Ms. Thompson will host a meeting today at the Avondale Recreation Center to give Orchard Knob Middle parents a chance to express concerns about the lack of textbooks and other issues at the school that may be affecting the quality of their children's education.
In a May letter to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, NAACP chapter President Valoria Armstrong asked federal officials to investigate the school district "in terms of adequacy, equity, class offerings, tenure and capital expenditures based on racial disparities."
The NAACP alleges that students at predominately black schools in the district get less experienced and less effective teachers, resources and funding.
In January, an Orchard Knob Middle teacher filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. The complaint stated that students at Orchard Knob, a predominantly black school, were not allowed to take home textbooks while students attending predominantly white schools could do so.
In February, the civil rights office agreed to investigate whether students at Orchard Knob were being treated differently from middle school students at mostly white schools.
Schools officials said they resolved the matter April 22 when the school district adopted a policy stating that no homework will be assigned from a particular textbook if there are not enough books for every student to have one.
"It is our understanding that the complaint is resolved," school district spokeswoman Danielle Clark said.
Hamilton Schools Superintendent Jim Scales agreed that students need textbooks but said other resources, such as online and copied text material, can be used in and out of the classroom.
"People get excited because we don't have textbooks," he said. "Yes, we need them, but there are so many other ways that we can provide students with the educational material that can circumvent the lack of textbooks in many cases."
Dr. Scales said administrators have struggled to keep schools supplied with current textbooks. He said other schools in the county also restrict students from taking home textbooks.
IF YOU GO
* What: Orchard Knob Middle School parents meeting
* When: 3:15-4:30 p.m. today
* Where: Avondale Recreation Center, 1305 Dodson Ave.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...