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The Justice Department announced today that it has secured an agreement to desegregate student enrollment and expand academic opportunities for students in the St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, public schools. The consent order was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Erny Foote of the Western District of Louisiana as part of a longstanding desegregation case.
Under the consent decree, the school district will promote student transfers to advance desegregation and work with the Justice Department and private plaintiffs to develop a robust magnet school, with the goal of attracting a diverse student body and desegregating a historically Black school zone.
“All students deserve the opportunity to attend desegregated schools,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “It is now nearly 70 years after the Supreme Court issued its historic decision in Brown v. Board, and long past time for school districts to comply. The Justice Department will continue fighting to dismantle the prior system of segregation, in St. Martin Parish and wherever it persists.”
The department presented evidence at district court hearings in April 2021, August 2022 and March 2023 showing that St. Martin Parish has long maintained a dual system of racially identifiable elementary schools in the St. Martinville and Catahoula attendance zones. Under the terms of the consent order, the district will, among other requirements:
The order requires regular reporting to the court, the department and private plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Several other areas of this case remain open and are subject to the court’s continuing jurisdiction, including possible attendance zone modifications, the desegregation of faculty and the issues of discipline and graduation pathways. The court will retain jurisdiction over the consent order during its implementation, and the department will monitor the district’s compliance.
Last month marked the 69th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division continues to prioritize enforcement of desegregation orders in school districts formerly segregated by law, to ensure that all children can access the building blocks of educational success. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt, and additional information about the work of the Educational Opportunities Section is available at www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities-section.
Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at www.civilrights.justice.gov/.