Gwinnett School Chief in trouble.

Gwinnett School Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks is well respected by his peers but a recent comment he made has some parents, teachers, and the NAACP up in arms:

The comments in question occurred last week during a presentation about the disproportionate discipline of minority students in Gwinnett.

An administrator said the issue is a problem for school districts nationwide except in Idaho, according to a study. Wilbanks then asked the administrator, James Taylor, executive director of the department of academic support: “Do they have any blacks in Idaho? They don’t have many.”

Parents circulating the comments on the Internet are expressing their disappointment in Wilbanks and school board members who ignored the controversial comments.

“I sent it to about 60 parents, and they were offended,” said educator Monise Seward of Snellville, who is developing a charter school in Gwinnett.”I’m surprised that he still has job…. It’s unacceptable.”

Should he be fired? I don’t think so. It seems to me the ‘perpetually offended’ have found a new reason to be upset.

The always offended Vincent Fort has weighed in:

State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), who chaired a 1997 legislative study committee on school discipline, said he is concerned about Wilbanks’ comments and the discipline numbers in Gwinnett. Fort said he is not looking for leniency for black students, just fairness.

“The issue for me isn’t whether or not the students should be disciplined,” he said. “What I’m looking for is equity and fairness in meting out discipline.”


  1. Dave Bearse says:

    A remark without much context is difficult to judge. The Wilbanks quote addresses the a “We should do whatever Idaho does.”

    Disproportionate discipline even after adjusting for other factors such as single parents, single family home dwellers, income etc is both likely and wrong, but how mcuhis attributable to other factors?

  2. Burdell says:

    I suppose it won’t satisfy the complainers to point out that, according to Wikipedia, the 2005 estimate is that Idaho is 0.84% black.

    Georgia is 30.29% black.

    Does anyone have a link to the actual study? What do they qualify as “disproportionate punishment”? Is it the same thing as Sen. Fort’s concept, or something completely different.

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    Wilbanks remark was tactless, but you gotta chuckle when one of the offended says, “It seems to me….he was making a stereotypical comment that the reason we have this problem is because we have a lot of black students.” Indeed the ONLY reason such a problem can exist is the presence of minority students. Schools with students all of the same race minority cannot have racially disproportinate discipline. You can figure on the order of three-quarters of Idaho schools don’t have a single black student.

  4. Harry says:

    Wilbanks spoke the truth – blacks have a disproportionate behavioral issue. But of course it’s not a politically correct truth to say. We are all supposed to be treated equally in the great American social experiment. Yeah right.

  5. Icarus says:

    The fact that this qualifies as “news” astounds me.

    The superintendent is going over data that indicates a potential problem. It is pointed out that 49 of 50 states have the same problem. The super points out that the 50th state doesn’t have the same demographics in a factual blunt question, using no racially charged or insensitive terms.

    One person then e-mails other people (note that there is no text of the e-mail that was distributed to see how accurately the super was quoted, nor the context that was included), and this person now claims that 60 other people who weren’t there are also offended, and that a highly successful, long tenured person should be fired.

    And the basis for the request to fire him: he “made statements that could be perceived as racist.”

    Note that he didn’t make statements that WERE racist. Just that THEY COULD BE PERCEIVED TO BE racist.

    I’m more than willing to call out actual racism where it exists. I’ve done so on at least one of the threads here this week.

    When people take situations such as this, where the entire discussion is centered around trying to solve what appears to be a problem of disproportionate punishment of minorities, and then turn the person that is trying to solve it into a racist, then everyone loses.

    The story about the boy who cried wolf is an appropriate analogy here. The folks who want to cry racism every time they see the opportunity, regardless of the merits of the situation, greatly undermine the ability to root out actual racism where it exists.

  6. onthefence says:

    I read the comment in the AJC article the other day and wasn’t offended. I also chuckled. I’m black and his statement was accurate, very accurate.

    My question even after reading the article is if the discipline is disproportionate what are black students being disciplined for and what are other students being disciplined for. Is tardiness, skipping classes, etc. included? What are really talking about?

    I agree who cares about the comment. It’s silly to report more on the comment than on the real news (the disproportionate discipline issue).

  7. YourFutureLeader says:

    His comment was stupid to make without really qualifying it, but not wrong and certainly not racist. He definitely shouldn’t lose his job over it.

  8. John Konop says:

    It is no secrete that broken homes, lower wages and less educated parents have an affect on a school system. And it is no secrete that the black community has a problem with the issue. In fact black leaders like Bill Cosby, Obama….. have been very outspoken about this issue.

  9. Truthteller says:


    It’s SECRET, not “Secrete”. You spelled it wrong TWO times.

    And it’s Effect, not Affect.

    If you’re going to continue offering advice that reads like basic-grade Chinese fortune cookies, please at least purchase a spell checker.

    But please recognize that you don’t have much credibility on educational issues until then.

  10. Tea Party says:

    If the man had said, “Do kids in Idaho generally have two parents that actively particiapte in their childrens’ education?” would he been perceived as a making a prejudiced remark?

    We are upset down, inside out with our fear of offending anyone for anything.

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