The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with the St. James Parish School District in Louisiana that upon completion will end court supervision of the district’s schools. The consent order, approved yesterday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, addresses all remaining issues in the school desegregation case, and when fully implemented will lead to the closing of that case.
The consent order, negotiated with the school district and private plaintiffs, represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, puts the district on a path to full unitary status within three years provided it:
- Implements a new student assignment plan that desegregates its three nearly all-black elementary schools to the extent practicable, by revising feeder patterns and creating specialized academic programs that will attract a diverse student body;
- Revises the district’s code of conduct to ensure fairness and consistency in the handling of subjective disciplinary offenses that do not threaten safety, and provides district staff with additional tools to address student misbehavior in nondiscriminatory ways;
- Takes reasonable steps to recruit a diverse pool of applicants for faculty and staff vacancies that arise in the course of implementing the new student assignment plan; and
- Incorporates into its student handbook a statement prohibiting discrimination in extracurricular activities and encouraging participation by students of all races.
The consent order declares that the district has already met its desegregation obligations in the area of transportation. The court will retain jurisdiction over the consent order during its implementation, and the Justice Department will monitor the district’s compliance.
“We are pleased to have worked hand-in-hand with the schools to ensure equal and fair treatment for the students of the St. James Parish School District,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with the district and private plaintiffs to implement the consent order and bring this case to a successful close.”
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 is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.