Pickens Middle School promotes segregating students by race for discussions with a guest speaker


Parents Defending Education received an email that “during the week of April 11th 2022 the Pickens Middle School in Pickens, South Carolina planned and conducted a series of presentations by a guest speaker in which the school segregated students by skin color.”

On April 11, 2022, Pickens Middle School Principal James King sent a letter to parents stating that “dynamic speaker” Adrienne Young would be coming to the school on April 15. The principal stated in his letter that she has “spoken about unity in schools for the past fifteen years” and “will be doing a virtual presentation for our students that morning.”

In the letter attached to the email that PDE received, the principal continued to explain that “at lunchtime on April 15th, we would like to invite you to a special lunch with Mrs. Young.” In an image of an email that the principal also appeared to send out, he explained that Adrienne Young would hold additional lunches with separate segregated groups of “African American Students,” “Hispanic Students,” and “Two or More Background Students.” The principal stated in the email that these additional lunches would “give Mrs. Young a chance to talk with students about how to cope with being a student in a predominantly white school.”

In the email that PDE received explaining what happened, PDE was told that “students who did not fall into these categories, such as white, Asian, and others, were not invited and were excluded from these special presentations and lunch meals.”

The principal sent out a letter discussing a speaker visiting the school.
The principal appeared to send out an email stating that the speaker would talk to students in segregated groups.

On April 15, 2022, Fox Carolina reported on the school choosing to allow all students to attend the originally segregated groups after backlash from parents. In a statement, the School District of Pickens County reportedly said:

Based on feedback from parents regarding the plans for the small group learning sessions, the school is providing an opportunity for all PMS students to have an option to attend the small group learning sessions.