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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 22, 2015

Court Approves Three-Year Plan to Complete Desegregation in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana Schools

Last night, the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana approved a comprehensive consent order filed by the Justice Department, the Avoyelles Parish School Board, and private plaintiffs in United States v. Avoyelles Parish School Board.  The consent order requires the school district to implement remedies in student assignment and discipline to complete the desegregation of the Avoyelles Parish school system.

The Avoyelles Parish School Board serves 5,400 students and has been operating under a continuing duty to desegregate its schools since 1967. 

The court retained jurisdiction over the case to ensure that the school board fully implements the relief required by the consent order and complies with applicable federal law.  The district may move for dismissal of the case if it successfully complies with the consent order for three years, during which time the school board must:

  • Implement a new student assignment and transfer policy, including better address verification measures;

  • Adopt a uniform admission process for the school system’s charter school along with a rigorous publicity and outreach program directed toward African-American students;

  • Strengthen advertising and marketing of the New Tech magnet program, which is located at a majority African-American high school;  

  • Conduct a comprehensive study to determine whether a magnet program can be established at a racially identifiable African-American elementary school, and take proactive steps to encourage white students to transfer to the school;

  • Ensure classes within schools are desegregated; 

  • Revise discipline policies to reduce racial disparities in the use of exclusionary discipline and expand the school board’s positive behavior interventions and supports program; and

  • Hire an experienced consultant to monitor and report annually on the school board’s efforts to comply with the consent order. 

“The Avoyelles Parish School Board’s unanimous vote to approve the consent order reflects our shared goal of securing equal educational opportunities for all students,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “We are confident that this agreement will bring meaningful progress, and we look forward to working closely with the School Board over the next three years to bring this case to a successful close.”

“My office is committed to ensuring that this district’s schools provide all students with equal educational opportunities,” stated U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana. “I applaud the Avoyelles Parish School Board for its efforts to eliminate the effects of state-mandated segregation. It is our goal to assist in any way possible so that the Consent Order will work to provide all students in Avoyelles Parish with a quality education, a safe and fruitful learning environment, and academic offerings to help them achieve their dreams.”

Promoting school desegregation and enforcing Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 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.

Press Release Number: 
15-664
Updated August 4, 2015