Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Oh brother, Mississippi is still doing this...

On Tuesday, Senior Judge Tom S. Lee serving in the U.S. District Court of Southern Mississippi had to issue an order requiring that Walthall County in Southwestern Mississippi to desegregate their school district.  Apparently, school officials were allowing a large chunk of the white students to transfer to a majority white set of schools while depleting any sense of diversity in the reminder of the county schools, which are majority black. 
WASHINGTON – A federal court has ordered the Walthall County, Miss., School District to eliminate policies that have resulted in significant racial segregation among students in the school district, the Justice Department today announced.
The United States filed a motion on Dec. 21, 2009, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi arguing that the Walthall School District is in flagrant violation of a prior court order from 1970, the Equal Protection Clause and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"More than 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, it is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "We will take action so that school districts subject to federal desegregation orders comply with their obligation to eliminate vestiges of separate black and white schools."
According to the motion, the district's practice of permitting hundreds of students – the vast majority whom are white – to attend schools outside their assigned residential attendance zone without restriction prompted a disproportionate number of white students to attend a single school in the district, leaving a number of other schools disproportionately black.
Indeed, evidence in the case suggested that the community regarded certain schools in the district as "white schools" or "black schools." The United States also asserted that officials in certain district schools grouped, or "clustered," white students together in particular classrooms, resulting in large numbers of all-black classes at every grade level in those schools.
The order issued today by the court requires the district to modify its transfer policy to permit students to transfer to a school outside their residential zone only if the student can demonstrate a compelling justification for the transfer. The court further ordered the district to implement protocols to ensure that students within district schools will hereafter be assigned to classrooms in a manner that will not lead to segregation.
The enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause and Title IV in school districts is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
According to the Washington Post:

For years, the local school board has permitted hundreds of white students to transfer from its Tylertown schools, which are about 75 percent African American and serve about 1,700 students, to another school, the Salem Attendance Center, which is about 66 percent white and serves about 577 students in grades K-12. The schools are about 10 miles apart.
Salem became "a racially identifiable white school while the student enrollment of the Tylertown schools has become predominantly black" because of the transfers, U.S. officials alleged in December, based on data from the 2007-08 school year, according to Lee's order.
At the same time in Tylertown four K-12 schools, "District administrators group, or 'cluster,' disproportionate numbers of white students into designated classrooms . . . resulting in significant numbers of segregated, all-black classrooms at each grade level," the judge wrote, summarizing the Justice Department lawyers' case.
So the clustering of white students in majority white school and the cluster of black students in other school, huh?  Well, Mississippi Department of Education have a lot of explaining to do considering they likely knew of this when they did their annual enrollment and demographic profiles of each schools in each school district.  Considering this is the notorious for being still practically "Indentured Servitude Country" aka Southwestern Mississippi, I just not surprised that is occurred here at all.  This is portion of Mississippi that is still stuck in the early 20th century in so many ways more than one can explain.  Mississippi is making a name for itself this year and it's only been 4 months in; first, with the prom fiasco in Itawamba County and now this ignorance.  WOW, WOW, WOW! 

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