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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Court Approves Dismissal of Longstanding School Desegregation Case in Wayne County, Mississippi

Today, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi approved the joint motion for unitary status filed by the Department of Justice and the Wayne County School District in Mississippi.  At the department and school district’s request, the court dismissed this longstanding school desegregation case.  The school district serves close to 3,500 students and has been operating under a desegregation order since 1970. 

In 2006, the court entered an order specifically prohibiting the use of race in classroom assignments at Waynesboro Elementary School, one of the district’s four elementary schools.  In 2012, after concerns continued about Waynesboro’s classroom assignment practices, the court approved a consent order directing the district to randomly assign students to classrooms in the school.  The district has successfully used the new classroom assignment procedures for the last four school years.

The department recently determined that the district had complied fully with the terms of the 2012 consent order and is therefore eligible for unitary status and dismissal of the case.

“We commend the Wayne County School District for satisfying its remaining obligations in this case and ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “We have been pleased to work with the district and other school systems under desegregation orders to resolve outstanding issues and seek dismissal of these cases when district have satisfied their obligations.”

Currently, the department monitors 178 school districts under active desegregation orders.  Over the last year, several school districts under desegregation orders have successfully sought unitary status from the courts and the cases have been dismissed.

Promoting school desegregation is a priority of the department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the division is available at www.justice.gov/crt.   

Updated August 4, 2015