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United States v. Carroll County Board of Education

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division

February 27, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
CARROLL COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DEFENDANT Grades Served Black White Other Total

          ORDER

          SHARION AYCOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On March 20, 2018, the United States initiated a review of the Carroll County Board of Education (“District”). After reviewing the information and data provided by the District, the United States advised the District that it has complied with the Court's desegregation orders for a reasonable period of time and has eliminated the vestiges of past de jure discrimination to the extent practicable. Now before the Court is a Joint Motion [5] for Declaration of Unitary Status and dismissal filed by the United States and the Carroll County Board of Education.

         Procedural History

         The United States filed its complaint against the District in this Court on August 26, 1965. In August of 1966, the Court approved a freedom of choice plan for the District. One year later on August 9, 1967, the Court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race in the operation of the school system. Early in 1969, the Court held that freedom of choice was not sufficient for desegregation and ordered the District to present a new desegregation plan.

         In compliance with the 1969 Court order, the District presented a new plan which called for boys entering grades one through six to attend Vaiden Attendance Center or Marshall Attendance Center, based on residence, while girls entering the same grades would attend North Vaiden Attendance Center or J.Z. George Attendance Center. After a one-year delay, high school students would be assigned in the same manner. The Court approved the new plan on May 17, 1969, and ordered the District to report annually, on or before October 15.

         In July 1970, however, the Court ordered the District to devise a new desegregation plan and semi-annual reports on December 1 and April 1 of each year. The District complied and presented a new plan, which called for students residing in Vaiden to attend North Vaiden Attendance Center for grades one through eight and Vaiden Attendance Center for grades nine through twelve. Students residing in North Carrollton would attend Marshall Attendance Center for grades one through eight and then J.Z. George Attendance Center for grades nine through twelve. On June 17, 1971, the Court ordered that class assignments be made alphabetically to ensure desegregation of classes and ordered the District to establish a unitary transportation system. Three years later, on April 16, 1973, the Court ordered grade one classes to return to each original school and transferred grades seven and eight to Vaiden and J.Z. George Attendance Centers.

         No further action was taken until June 2007, when the Court approved the creation of magnet schools at Hathorn and Marshall Elementary Schools. Currently, the District operates only two schools in a single grade configuration: Marshall Elementary School (K-5) and J.Z. George High School (6-12). Accordingly, all kindergarten through fifth grade students in the District attend Marshall Elementary school, and all sixth through twelfth grade students in the District attend J.Z. George High School.

         Legal Standard

         Courts have long recognized that the goal of the school desegregation process is to promptly convert a de jure segregated school system to a system without “white” schools or “black” schools, but just schools. Green v. Cnty. Sch. Bd. of New Kent Cnty., Va., 391 U.S. 430, 442, 88 S.Ct. 1689, 20 L.Ed.2d 716 (1968). The standard established by the Supreme Court for determining whether a school district has achieved unitary status, thus warranting termination of judicial supervision, is whether: (1) the school district has fully and satisfactorily complied with the court's desegregation orders for a reasonable period of time; (2) the school district has eliminated the vestiges of past de jure discrimination to the extent practicable; and (3) the school district has demonstrated a good faith commitment to the whole of the Court's order and to those provisions of the law and the Constitution which were the predicate for judicial intervention in the first instance. See Missouri v. Jenkins, 515 U.S. 70, 87-89, 115 S.Ct. 2038, 132 L.Ed.2d 63 (1995); Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467, 491-92, 498, 112 S.Ct. 1430, 118 L.Ed.2d 108 (1992); Bod of Educ. of Okla. City Pub. Sch. v. Dowell, 498 U.S. 237, 248-50, 111 S.Ct. 630, 112 L.Ed.2d 715 (1991).

         The Supreme Court has identified six areas, commonly known as the “Green factors, ” which must be addressed as part of the determination of whether a school district has fulfilled its duties and eliminated vestiges of the prior dual school system to the extent practicable: (1) student assignment; (2) faculty; (3) staff; (4) transportation; (5) extracurricular activities; and (6) facilities. Green, 391 U.S. at 435, 88 S.Ct. 1689; see Bd. of Educ. of Okla. City Pub. Sch., 498 U.S. at 250, 111 S.Ct. 630. The Green factors, however, are not intended to be a “rigid framework.” The Supreme Court has approved consideration of other indicia, such as “quality of education, ” as important factors in determining whether the District has fulfilled its desegregation obligations. See Freeman, 503 U.S. at 492-93, 112 S.Ct. 1430.

         Analysis

         The Parties stipulate that the District has satisfied prior orders with regard to general student assignment and assignment by class. For the 2018-19 academic year, the District operates two schools in a single-grade configuration and enrolled approximately 934 students, as shown below.

         2018-19 Enrollment

Grades Served

Black Students

White Students

Other Students

Total

Marshall
Elementary
School
PK-5
245
157
18
420
J.Z. George High School
6-12
288
198
28
514
Totals
PK-12
533
355
46
934

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