IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
TUNICA COUNTY SCHOOL
DISTRICT, et al.,
THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; THE
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al.,
Plaintiff United States of America ("United States") and Defendants Tunica County
School District, et al. ("District"), having engaged in good-faith negotiations, do voluntarily
agree to the entry of this Consent Order by the Court, to resolve the District's pending Motion to
Modify Desegregation Plan. After reviewing the terms of this Consent Order, the Court
concludes that the entry of this Consent Order comports with the objectives of the Fourteenth
Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America and applicable federal law, and,
if properly implemented, will further the orderly desegregation of the Tunica County School
It is, therefore, ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED as follows:
On September 16, 1999, the District filed a Motion to Terminate Supervision, or,
Alternatively, to Modify Desegregation Plan, in which it sought a declaration of unitary status
and termination of federal court supervision, or, in the alternative, approval to build a new
elementary school in Robinsonville ("the Robinsonville site") and to modify elementary-school
attendance zone lines. The Robinsonville site is situated in Section 24, Township 3 South,
Range 11 West, on land purchased by the District for the express purpose of building the school
there. The District operates under a desegregation plan that was entered by this Court on January
23, 1970 ("1970 Order"), as modified by consent orders dated May 19, 1977, August 1, 1986,
July 12, 1988, August 27, 1998, and November 13, 1998.
On September 24, 1999, the United States filed a Motion for a Discovery and
Negotiations Schedule and a Memorandum responding to the District's Motion, in which the
United States argued, among other things, that the District had not met its burden of proving
either that it had achieved unitary status or that its proposed new school comports with its
affirmative obligations under federal law and the 1970 Order. The United States requested that
the Court afford it a period to take discovery on the District's Motion.
At a hearing on October 5, 1999, the Court declined to consider, until a later date, the
District's motion for unitary status. Transcript of Motion Hearing at 6-7 (10/5/99). The Court
allowed the United States an expedited period for the taking of discovery and scheduled an
evidentiary hearing on the District's Motion to Modify Desegregation Plan for November 29,
1999. Id. at 51-52. While preparing for the evidentiary hearing, the parties engaged in
negotiations that resulted in the provisions set forth below.
- New Elementary School
- This Court's 1970 Order requires that "[a]ll school construction, school
consolidation, and site selection (including the location of any temporary classrooms) in the
system shall be done in a manner which will prevent the recurrence of the dual school structure
once this desegregation plan is implemented." The District agrees that it will not proceed with its
plans to build a new school at the Robinsonville site. Consistent with this Court's mandate and
to further the process of desegregation, the parties agree that the District shall exercise all good
faith efforts to acquire a specific tract of land situated in Section 26, Township 3 South, Range
11 West, referred to as the alternative site in the District's Motion. See Appendix A (Map of
Tunica County, showing schools and attendance zone lines). Upon the entry of this Consent
Order, the District shall be permitted to acquire this tract and proceed with the construction of a
new elementary school on it.(1) This 12.85-acre site is situated at the intersection of Old Highway
61 North and Indian Creek/Hambrick Road; it is west of Old Highway 61 North, north of Indian
Creek/Hambrick Road, and south of the intersection of Old Highway 61 North and Bowdre
Road. The site is about 1.75 miles south of the Robinsonville site; about 0.75 miles west of the
Hambrick subdivision; about 2.5 miles north of the Hollywood subdivision; and about 8.0 miles
from Tunica Elementary School. The District shall be responsible for all necessary site
preparation work and infrastructure costs (e.g., water, sewerage, electric, gas) to insure that the
new elementary school is fully functional and meets applicable federal, state and local standards,
regulations and codes.
- The school shall be designed and built with a capacity to accommodate 500
students, in pre-kindergarten through the fifth grade. The District projects the initial enrollment
at this school to be 200-250 students. The District shall insure that the facilities, curricula,
resources and equipment are comparable at all elementary schools.
- The District shall insure that the name and any school mascot or colors of the new
elementary school are not insensitive or offensive to the African-American community in Tunica
- Attendance Zone Lines
The current elementary school attendance zones shall be modified as follows:
- For the new elementary school, the attendance zone shall be that part of Tunica
County north of a line which shall: begin at the western boundary of Tunica County at Bordeaux
Point in Township 4 South, Range 13 West; proceed due east along the southern boundaries of
Sections 3, 2, 1, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23, to Good Road; then east and then
north on Good Road to Verner Road; then north on Verner Road to Arnold Road; then east on
Arnold Road to Woolfolk Road; then east on Woolfolk Road to its junction with Highway 3
North; then due east along the southern boundaries of Sections 10, 11 and 12, to the DeSoto
County line. See Appendix A.
- The attendance zone for Tunica Elementary School shall be bounded to the north by
the attendance zone line described in Paragraph III.A, above, and to the south by an attendance
zone line that shall: begin at the intersection of the western boundary of Tunica County with the
southern boundary of Section 16, Township 5 South, Range 13 West; proceed north along the
western county line to its intersection with the southern boundary of Section 18, Township 5
South, Range 13 West; then east along the southern boundaries of Sections 18, 17, 16, 15 and 14
to Austin Road; then east on Austin Road to New Highway 61; then south on New Highway 61
to its intersection with Bonnie Blue Road; then east on Bonnie Blue Road and then Flint Woods
Road to the Tate County line. See Appendix A.
- The attendance zone for Dundee Elementary School shall be that part of Tunica
County south of the attendance zone line described in Paragraph III.B, above. See Appendix A.
- The District shall insure that transportation to schools is provided on a non-discriminatory basis, and that transportation burdens are not unreasonable.
- The District shall make its best efforts to limit the time of each student's bus
transportation to the elementary schools other than Dundee from pick-up to drop-off to 35
minutes or less; and absent extraordinary circumstances, which the District shall promptly
explain in writing to the United States and the Court, the scheduled time of any student's bus
transportation to the elementary schools other than Dundee shall not exceed 45 minutes.
- Future Construction/Attendance Zone Modifications
- The District shall insure that any future school construction, school closing, grade
re-configuration, and/or attendance zone modifications comport with the District's affirmative
obligations to achieve the greatest degree of desegregation practicable while equitably
distributing the burdens of desegregation and transportation.
- In the event the District determines that a need exists to undertake any of the actions
identified in Paragraph V.A, above, it shall, at least ninety (90) days prior to expending any
funds, or entering into any binding commitments, or taking any other measure designed to bring
about any of the actions identified in Paragraph V.A, above, provide written notice to counsel for
the United States, by facsimile and first-class mail to the address below,(2) setting forth (1) the
proposed action(s) to be taken, (2) the reason(s) for such action(s); (3) a detailed analysis of the
expected impacts on desegregation and transportation; and (4) appropriate supporting data and
information to enable the United States to evaluate the District's proposal. The United States
shall approve or object to the proposal within ninety (90) days of submission. If there is an
objection, or if the United States fails to timely respond to the proposal, the parties shall attempt
in good faith to resolve the matter informally. At the end of such negotiations, the parties shall
submit a proposed consent order for this Court's review and entry, or request that the Court
consider and resolve the disputed matter.
- Residential Development
- Because of the burgeoning casino industry in northern Tunica County, significant
residential development is in its beginning stages in Tunica County. The United States and the
District agree that this new development creates a unique opportunity to expand housing
opportunities, including affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. The
parties share a mutual interest in bringing about the greatest degree of desegregation practicable,
and in establishing and sustaining racially diverse student enrollments, in the Tunica County
- The parties agree that the participation of the Tunica County Board of Supervisors,
the Mississippi Home Corporation and the State of Mississippi Department of Economic and
Community Development in implementing housing initiatives may assist in achieving these
important ends. On November 15, 1999, the Tunica County Board of Supervisors adopted a
Resolution to implement an affordable housing plan for Tunica County. See Appendix B.
Counsel for the Board of Supervisors has provided the parties a letter regarding the Resolution.
See Appendix C. The Mississippi Home Corporation and the State of Mississippi Department of
Economic and Community Development have indicated their intended support for, and
participation in, the implementation of this plan. See Appendices D and E.
- The District agrees to work with the Tunica County Board of Supervisors to
implement the affordable housing plan as follows:
- The District shall distribute, to parents of students attending the District's
schools, marketing materials and other written information provided to it by the County about the
County's housing education and counseling services;
- The District shall provide physical space, upon reasonable request by the
County, in District school buildings for home-buyer seminars, fair housing workshops and other
housing educational and counseling services; and
- The District shall develop and implement an ongoing marketing and outreach
program, including utilizing materials provided to it by the Mississippi Home Corporation, to
inform current and prospective licensed District teachers of the Housing Assistance for Teachers
home-ownership program offered by the Mississippi Home Corporation.
Beginning with the 2000-01 school year, the District shall, within thirty (30) days of the
beginning of each school year, submit to the United States and the Clerk of the Court a report
that includes the following information:
- Student enrollment, by race, for each school in the District;
- Administrative and certified staff, by position and race, for each school in the
- A list of all students who are attending schools outside the attendance zones in
which they reside (both intra- and inter-district), including, for each student, (1) the race of the
student; (2) the sending and receiving schools; and (3) the reason(s) for the transfer;
- School bus routes for the elementary schools in the District, indicating the race of
each student, the time the student is picked up, the time the student is delivered to school, and the
reason(s) why any such time exceeds thirty-five (35) minutes; and
- Any new school construction or modification, including the addition of portable
classrooms, or any attendance zone line change, under consideration by the District.
- Effect of Prior Orders
The Court retains jurisdiction over this case, and all prior orders not inconsistent with this
Consent Order remain in full force and effect.
So ORDERED this _______________ day of November, 1999.
NEAL B. BIGGERS, JR.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
For Plaintiff United States of America:
BILL LANN LEE
Acting Assistant Attorney General
MICHAEL S. MAURER
K. HESHIMA WHITE
SUNIL H. MANSUKHANI
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Educational Opportunities Section
P.O. Box 65958
Washington, DC 20035-5958
CALVIN D. BUCHANAN
United States Attorney
911 Jackson Avenue
P.O. Drawer 886
Oxford, MS 38655
For Defendants Tunica County School District, et al.:
REUBEN V. ANDERSON (MSB # 1587)
JOHN P. SNEED (MSB # 7652)
JAMES W. CRAIG (MSB #7798)
J. DOUGLAS MINOR, JR. (MSB #10045)
PHELPS DUNBAR, L.L.P.
200 South Lamar Street, Suite 500
P.O. Box 23066
Jackson, MS 39225-3066
1. The District has obtained informal assurances from the owner(s) of this tract that the
land is available to the District on acceptable terms. The availability of this land is conditioned
on the reversion of "the Robinsonville site" to the related grantors of that tract pursuant to the
terms of a Corrected Warranty Deed.
2. The notice shall be sent to: Chief, Educational Opportunities Section, Civil Rights
Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 65958, Washington, DC, 20035-5958, (202) 514-8337 (facsimile number).