New election district boundaries for Louisiana’s top school board were approved Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Federal officials earlier approved new lines crafted by the Legislature for the state House and Senate, Louisiana’s congressional delegation and the Public Service Commission.
The latest approval applies to boundary lines for eight state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education districts.
BESE sets policies for about 668,000 public school students.
The Legislature gave final approval to the new map on May 24 with little controversy.
“We are glad to have this issue behind us and put to bed,” said Jim Garvey, who is vice president of BESE and helped usher the plan through the Legislature.
BESE has 11 members, including eight who are elected from the single-member districts that the Justice Department approved.
Two of the eight are majority-black districts.
A majority-minority district is one where black people, who make up a minority of residents in Louisiana, make up a majority of residents in the BESE district.
Linda Johnson, of Plaquemine, who holds one of the seats, and Louella Givens, of New Orleans, who occupies the other, endorsed the plan that won final approval.
Under the final version, the District 8 post held by Johnson is 61.1 percent black.
The District 2 slot held by Givens is 61.7 percent black.
The new boundaries apply to eight, single-member districts.
Each district is supposed to have about 567,00 residents.
All eight elected seats are on the Oct. 22 ballot. Three others are named by the governor.
The state had to submit the new boundaries to the U.S. Justice Department for approval because of Louisiana’s history of racial discrimination in election practices and procedures.
“The attorney general does not interpose any objection to the specified change,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant U.S. attorney general, said in a letter to state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
Perez noted that the letter does not preclude others from challenging the plan in court.
Lawmakers failed to agree on a plan in a special redistricting session in April, in part because of efforts to increase the percentage of black voters in the two majority-minority districts.
The new boundaries won House approval 94-0 and passed the Senate 33-1 with five abstentions.