Attorneys in Tangipahoa’s 46-year-old school desegregation case reached a compromise Thursday afternoon that settles three issues scheduled to come up in a Friday hearing in federal court, attorneys confirmed Thursday.
“The attorneys have come to, basically, an agreement that disposes of the need for a hearing,” said Charles Patin, one of two attorneys representing the Tangipahoa Parish School Board in the 46-year-old suit.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Nelson Taylor said that an agreement had been reached “in principle,” but that some of the language remained to be tweaked.
In lieu of the scheduled U.S. District Court hearing in New Orleans, attorneys plan to meet with the judge in chambers, Patin said.
Details of the compromise were not released, but School Board President Rose Dominguez said that it was similar to a motion filed by the School Board late last month.
In that motion, the School Board proposed to build three new schools instead of the five called for by the court-approved desegregation plan.
The School Board did not have the funds to build five new schools after four tax proposals were rejected by voters April 30, the motion says.
Proposals to hire art and music teachers for elementary schools were also cut from the plan in the School Board’s motion, documents show.
Thursday’s agreement removes the need for a hearing on two other motions before U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle, Patin said.
Taylor, who represents African-American students in the parish, had filed a motion asking Lemelle to sanction the School Board and Superintendent Mark Kolwe for using discriminatory hiring practices in placing teachers in the parish’s nine new magnet schools.
The motion asked Lemelle to appoint a special master to help Desegregation Compliance Officer Arlene Guerin and Desegregation Implementation Officer Lynell Higginbotham put the desegregation plan into effect.
The School Board filed a motion in April seeking unitary status in extracurricular activities.
That motion is also rendered moot by the compromise, Patin said.
Dominguez said the agreement between the two sides would, hopefully, persuade Lemelle not to order the School Board to levy taxes or impose a busing plan, two things he threatened to do in a November hearing.
“We have made this agreement to keep him from doing the things he said that he might do,” Dominguez said.