Belleville District 201 vows to increase number of minorities in honors classes

Maye Anderson says her son and his friends have noticed a lack of diversity in the honors classes at their high school.

Anderson addressed the Belleville District 201 School Board during its Monday night meeting. One of her three children is an honors student at Belleville West High School, she said.

“He’s the only African American male in most of his classes,” Anderson said.

Belleville West Principal Rich Mertens said school leaders are aware and are working to increase the number of minority students in advanced placement courses, specifically, through the Equal Opportunity Schools program. The effort is district-wide.

“We’d like there to be more diversity,” Mertens said.

Superintendent Jeff Dosier announced in March that the district had received a grant from the program. Melissa Taylor, director of student services, said at the time that meant a program specialist would regularly visit the high schools to identify students who could take AP classes.

The Equal Opportunity Schools program involves actively recruiting those students for AP classes, according to Mertens.

We’d like there to be more diversity.

Rich Mertens, Belleville West High School principal

Rev. Ohala Ward of Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church also addressed the school board Monday. Ward said Anderson’s son told her about possible acts of racism at the school. However, Mertens said there have been no formal complaints at Belleville West about racism.

Ward told the school board that racism can be discouraging to black youth.

“... Their talents go to waste,” she said.

In other business

The school board voted to renew the administrative contracts of these following Belleville West employees:

▪  Associate Principal Richard Bass

▪  Assistant Principal Todd Hayes

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes