Court Approves Comprehensive Assignment Plan In Longstanding Tennessee Desegregation Case
Memphis, TN – On August 21, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Tennessee approved a comprehensive consent order in McFerren v. County Board of Education
of Fayette County, which the Department of Justice negotiated with the Board of Education of
Fayette County, Tennessee and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund to desegregate the
Fayette County public schools.
The consent order requires the district to implement a controlled choice program by the
start of the 2014-15 school year for three of its six elementary schools, so that all three schools
achieve desegregated enrollments. To further desegregation at the other elementary schools, the
district must close two of its elementary schools, construct a new elementary school, revise
attendance zone lines and create a magnet program at the elementary school with the highest
percentage of African-American enrollment. If the magnet program fails to produce a
desegregated school after three years, the consent order requires the district to take additional
steps. The district further agreed to provide gifted services at each elementary school, offer
additional advanced courses at the high school, and continue certain intra-district student
transfers that further desegregation among its schools.
United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton, III, said, “This consent order is a significant
landmark in this desegregation case, which dates back to 1965. Implementation of the order will
ensure that students in Fayette County are educated in a manner consistent with the Fourteenth
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I commend all parties to the litigation for their
commitment to resolving the case.”
"We are pleased that the parties were willing to work so hard to reach such a substantial
and important agreement in this case," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the
Civil Rights Division. "The order shows the type of meaningful progress parties can achieve
toward ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students if they are willing to be both
steadfast and creative, and we look forward to working with the district over the next few years
to implement the order and bring this case to a close."
The enforcement of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in school districts is a top
priority of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil
Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.