US District Court Orders Desegregation in Louisiana Parish


A consent order was recently approved by the US District Court of the Western District of Louisiana, requiring four elementary schools in Lincoln Parish to desegregate.

The consent order, filed jointly between the US Justice Department and Lincoln Parish School Boards, claims that 22 out of a total of 87 homerooms within the four elementary schools in question were "racially identifiable," with 5 serving only black students, writes Bob Lenox for WWNO. The schools, located in Ruston, LA, serve students between kindergarten and the fifth grade.

"This order is a significant step for the Lincoln Parish School Board toward achieving the goals of desegregation and equal accessto education for all students," said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana. "We look forward to continuing to work with the Board to ensure that these changes are successfully implemented."

Approved by Judge Robert G. James, the order requires the principals of each school to assign students to their homerooms based on a set of six stipulations. According to the order, students cannot be grouped by ability or academic level.

In addition, the percentage of each racial grouping of students in each homeroom should be close to the percentage of each racial grouping in that grade in that school — within 15%. Students who enroll after the first day of school should be assigned to a homeroom in the correct grade with the least number of students.

The order states that a homeroom should have no more than 40% special education inclusion students, and that requests shall not be taken concerning homeroom assignments by parents, students or teachers. The only time such a request should be considered is when it does not hinder the desegregation of that classroom.

The order also requires that any ALA program at the school be operated as a school-wide, racially diverse program with the goal of increasing the gifts and talents of all students in the school.

"We commend the Lincoln Parish School Board's commitment to resolve this case by addressing the racial isolation in its elementary school homerooms in Ruston," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division. "This consent order reinforces the Civil Rights Division's steadfast commitment to ensuring that all students have access to equal educational opportunities, regardless of race or color."

Once the order has been fully implemented, the board can seek court approval to dismiss the desegregation case relating to student assignment in December of 2016.

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