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The Department of Justice announced last week that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the McDuffie County Schools in Georgia to modify the zoning of the district’s elementary schools and ensure the school district complies with other obligations to desegregate its schools in the areas of student assignment, faculty recruiting and assignment and transportation.
The consent order, if approved by the court, requires the district to alter the elementary school zones in order to increase the number of African-American students in the de jure white school, where the enrollment has remained majority white and disproportionate to the racial composition of the district as a whole. The consent order also requires the district to eliminate racial disparities in how teachers and staff are assigned to the district’s schools and to engage in affirmative efforts to recruit African-American personnel. The consent order also contains provisions for student transfers, gifted and talented programs, discipline, transportation, and monitoring and reporting. Finally, the district will establish a diversity advisory council to evaluate and monitor the implementation of the zone changes and the district’s continued efforts toward desegregation. The consent order allows the district, upon demonstration of successful implementation of the provisions in the order, to move for unitary status on Dec. 15, 2015.
“We applaud the McDuffie County Schools for agreeing to take prompt voluntary corrective actions to ensure that it fully meets its desegregation obligations in three years,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to work to ensure that McDuffie and all school districts under federal desegregation orders fully eliminate the vestiges of segregation in their schools.”
Edward J. Tarver, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, said, “I admire the McDuffie County School District’s efforts in working to amicably resolve what were once highly contentious issues in our society. The United States Attorney’s Office will provide assistance to the School District and the Civil Rights Division to ensure continued compliance with this Consent Order.”
The enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause and 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 of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt