Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DOJ, Alabama School District Settle Segregation Case

The DOJ announced on Aug. 8 that it reached a settlement with the Pickens County Board of Education requiring the board to institute a series of educational reforms to eliminate racial segregation in the school system.

“Anytime that the federal system can help to eliminate racial discrimination in schools or anything else, we are all for that,” said Benard Fimelton, president of the Alabama State Conference of the National Association of Advancement for Colored People (NAACP), in a telephone interview.

After an unsuccessful attempt to work with the school district on the matter, the DOJ filed a motion on May 2 asking the court to rule that the school district had violated the existing desegregation orders and federal law. The district was then ordered to implement a plan to eliminate the vestiges of the district’s former dual school system.

After conducting a district-wide capacity study and gathering the input of over 800 students, parents, and concerned citizens who attended a community meeting, the DOJ and the school district jointly requested that two schools be closed.

Students and faculty were to be reassigned, and improvements made to education and extracurricular activities at the remaining schools.

The Pickens County Board of Education has been under a court-ordered desegregation plan since June 12, 1970. The court ordered the district to dismantle the dual structure still in existence.