Judge Debra Brown orders school district Friday, to submit timeline implementing desegregation plan within 21 days
Mississippi school district ends school district six decades after Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Ed, struck down segregation
Legal battle to end illegal segregation holdout Mississippi school district lasted 51 years
Before ruling, Cleveland School district, presented three alternate plans to keep two separate high schools for the 66% black, 30% white school district ‘to keep white families from leaving the district’
But Federal Court ruling agrees with the Justice Dept the only way to desegregate district is consolidating the two sets of schools
The Cleveland School District in Mississippi has been ordered to desegregate by consolidating its nearly all-black high school (pictured) with a historically white one. The legal case begun in 1965 after the schol district failed to sufficiently desegregate.
The Cleveland Scool district in Mississippi has been ordered to desegregate its schools after a 51-year-long legal battle. The Cleveland School District, about two hours northwest of Jackson, was told that it must consolidate its schools in order to provide real desegregation for students in the city of about 12,000. Residents first filed suit against the Bolivar County Board of Education in July 1965, according to an opinion handed down on Friday.
Previous court orders from 1969, 1989, 1992 and 1995 had drawn up plans for desegregation, though the federal government said in 2011 filing that administrators “lack will to meaningfully integrate its schools.”
The district made some moves, such as changing residency requirements and poorly maintaining schools that were filled almost entirely with black students.
Among the district’s schools are East Side High School and D.M. Smith Middle School, which have remained virtually all black since before integration. A historically white middle and high school less than a mile and a half away have a more even mix of black and white students, and are perceived as providing a better education, in a town where the principal divider between the two races in the city is a set of train tracks, with whites to the west and blacks to the east.
Before the ruling, Cleveland School district, which is 66% black and 30% white, had offered three alternate plans tto keep two separate high schools instead focusing on letting students choose their school, which officials claimed would keep white families from leaving the district. However, the federal court in it’s ruling agreed with the Justice Department that the only way to desegregate the district is to consolidate the two sets of schools.
Justice Dept drew atention to the fact that the decision comes 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education, which Thurgood Marshall successfully made a case for desegregation of school districts in the US Supreme Court
“Six decades after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declared that ‘separate but equal has no place’ in public schools, this decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional,” said Justice Department attorney Vanita Gupta said.
District Judge Debra Brown ordered the district to submit a timeline to implement the desegregation plan within 21 days.
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