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Soon after a group of parents accused North Atlanta High’s International Baccalaureate Program of promoting racism, an official with the U.S. Department of Education reported the program increased diversity in all of the school’s academies.

The Buckhead Reporter obtained a letter dated March 26, 2012 written by Shannon Mitchell, a program officer with the U.S. Department of Education. Mitchell visited North Atlanta High in January as part of a follow up on how Atlanta Public Schools was implementing a $2.1 million Small Learning Communities Program grant awarded in 2010.

Small Learning Communities are schools-within-a-school that offer a degree track. The IB program is one of North Atlanta’s small learning communities, called academies.  As first revealed as part of a Buckhead Reporter investigation, parents sent a letter to APS in February claiming the IB program discriminated against black students. It also accused then-principal Mark MyGrant of promoting a culture of discrimination.

APS officials on Oct. 5 removed MyGrant, who was serving as an interim principal, and reassigned his academy leaders, including the administrator who oversaw the IB program. APS says the move was about academic performance and not related to the allegations.

Mitchell forwarded her letter to Superintendent Erroll Davis. She noted that North Atlanta began implementing its SLC program prior to the grant award. Mitchell found that school administrators were also focused on increasing the diversity of the program.

“The school administration’s proactive efforts to enhance the academic rigor of all academies have resulted in broader diversity across all the academies over the past year,” Mitchell’s letter says.

Mitchell found the increased diversity was the result of the school’s leadership deciding to to offer the IB diploma option to students in all of the school’s different academies, which made all classes more challenging.

Mitchell confirmed she wrote the letter, but declined further comment about the site visit.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com