AMITE — Tangipahoa Parish school officials agreed Tuesday to an action plan for complying with the parish’s desegregation orders for student assignment, infrastructure, long-term financing and teacher employment.
The School Board did not discuss the plan publicly Tuesday night, after spending more than an hour in executive session hammering out the details, but one board member indicated after the meeting that it essentially revives prior plans to bring an end to the district’s 49-year-old desegregation case.
Board members said the action plan would be made available Wednesday morning on the district’s website for public review and comment before the board votes on a finalized version Dec. 9.
The board must then send the plan to attorneys representing the parish’s black community for comments before submitting it to U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle for approval.
Speaking after the meeting Tuesday, board member Brett Duncan said the district will seek unitary status in the area of teacher and faculty employment — a sign that the board believes it already is complying with previous court orders in that area.
The remaining three areas of the action plan — student assignment, infrastructure and long-term financing — will be addressed by asking the federal court to adopt the board’s long-debated, modified desegregation plan, Duncan said.
The modified plan — now being called “an alternative method for complying with the court’s orders” — would make use of magnet schools and other educational enhancements to draw students across attendance lines and create more racially balanced schools.
School Board members have pushed for the modified plan for several years to avoid spending more than $50 million on three new schools and to minimize the rezoning required under current court orders. Attorneys representing the parish’s black community have pushed back, saying they were not consulted about the plan’s details and that it would not adequately address the community’s needs. The court has previously denied the board’s request for the modified plan’s adoption.
The current desegregation orders stem from a lawsuit filed against the School Board in 1965. The issue was never fully resolved but was revived in 2007 after black community leaders raised questions about racial segregation in the parish’s schools.
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