After experiencing a striking racial imbalance, Leschi Elementary altered a popular program that had drawn white families to a traditionally black school.
From the outside, Leschi Elementary School seemed a model of diversity. Black, white and brown students filed through its doors each morning, and peace reigned on the playground.
Inside, the staff saw something different: Two schools, one mostly white, one mostly black, separate and unequal.
In one, eager parents donated money for fancy classroom equipment. In the other, many parents picked up provisions at the school food bank.
“The school was segregated, man,” said Gerald Donaldson, the school social worker, who dispenses donated groceries and clothing from his office. “It wasn’t right.”
Donaldson wasn’t the only one concerned about the split. It ate at teachers, too, and many parents — black, white and brown. The teachers, dealing with two very different sets of challenges, often felt at odds.
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