Following a Dec. 4 clash between two seventh-graders, one Hispanic and one African-American, at Dillard Drive Middle School in Raleigh, Principal Teresa Abron called all the Hispanic and African-American seventh-graders to separate assemblies. Both were given a tongue-lashing about their conduct, attire, poor grades and no-tolerance policies on fighting and gang activities.

White seventh-graders, a majority of the school, remained in their classrooms.

The ACLU of North Carolina thinks the segregated assemblies were a mistake.

“Principal Abron unwittingly perpetuated the stereotype that students of color are ‘problem students’ who must be dealt with, while white students do not need to attend the assembly because white students are less likely to get into trouble,” it complained in a letter to school officials.

The ACLU is seeking an apology from school officials along with some assurance that, in future incidents, principals will “know how to handle it so all students are treated equally,” says Rebecca Headen, who directs the group’s racial justice project.

“We’ve gotten very little response from the schools,” Headen adds. “They’ve treated it as a one-time event [and] really tried to minimize the effects.”

Schools spokesman Michael Evans said he wasn’t aware of any action taken in response to the complaint.

The ACLU and the local chapter of ACORN have invited concerned folks to a meeting Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. at ACORN’s office, 1408 Hillsborough St. Those planning to attend are asked to call 834-3466 or e-mail