The Department of Justice announced today that it entered into a settlement agreement with the Lincoln Parish School Board in Louisiana to ensure the school district reaches full compliance with its longstanding desegregation obligations. The agreement was approved by a judge today and is in the form of a consent order.
Under the agreement, the board will adopt a pairing plan for the four elementary schools currently serving grades K-5 in the Ruston attendance zone. The department had found significant racial disparities in the student demographics at three of those four schools. The pairing plan, which will be implemented by the start of the 2012-2013 school year, will create two schools serving grades K-2 and two schools serving grades 3-5. The board has also agreed to revise its student transfer policies. Once these measures are implemented, the racial disparities in the Ruston schools will be eliminated and the student bodies at every school in the district will be fully desegregated.
The consent order, if approved, will also dismiss the desegregation case in the areas of faculty and staff assignment, facilities, transportation and extracurricular activities. The department has determined that the board fully and successfully complied with its desegregation obligations in those areas. The board may seek dismissal of the student assignment issue in late 2013 upon successful implementation of the terms of the agreement. The department, board and other defendants are continuing to work to address other issues in the desegregation case, which was originally filed by the United States in 1966.
“The Lincoln Parish School Board is to be commended for taking aggressive steps to address and effectively resolve the remaining issues in this desegregation case,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division looks forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the board to implement this agreement and ensure all Lincoln Parish students have equal educational opportunities.”
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. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.