The NAACP and the local African American Accountability Alliance filed a complaint against the Alachua County School Board with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, arguing that board discriminates in hiring.

Federal investigators with the Office of Civil Rights are looking into racial discmination complaints made by the local NAACP chapter and the African American Accountability Alliance.

Diyonne McGraw, vice president of the 4As’ political action committee, said the organizations were concerned by statistics showing minority students in Alachua County schools receive worse grades and more suspensions than their white counterparts.

“There is something wrong with that picture,” McGraw said Friday.

The complaint, filed in June, argues that the School Board discriminates in its hiring practices. In December, an OCR official wrote to the district, requesting the number of employees by race, the number of vacancies and recruiting methods.

If the office finds the complaint has grounds, it will investigate under Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin.

McGraw said the district needs diverse employees because more children are coming from different racial, socioeconomic and emotional backgrounds.

“Now it’s a different ball game,” she said. “It’s more challenging now.”

And while some teachers call students “bad,” McGraw said, “You don’t know what children have been through.”

The state Education Department released data Wednesday showing that while Alachua County’s graduation rate for 2017 was 82.7 percent — 0.4 percentage points higher than the state’s graduation rate — African American students’ graduation rate was 68.3 percent.

And in 2016, 73 percent of suspended students in public schools were black, even though they made up less than half of the student population.

In January 2016, the School Board hired Mike Powell & Associates to increase the number of highly qualified minority teacher and staff applicants. By that June, the district’s minority applicants had increased to 12.5 percent from 11 percent.

The request for information represents only that the OCR is looking into the complaint, not that federal officials are necessarily saying the complaint is founded, according to the Dec. 21 letter from attorney Ebony Callaway-Spencer, OCR's compliance team leader.