New boundaries for Louisiana’s top school board are fair enough to win approval from the U. S. Department of Justice, the vice president of the panel said Tuesday.
The revamped lines, which won final legislative approval May 24, have to be reviewed and approved by federal officials because of the state’s history of racial discrimination.
The boundaries apply to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sets policies for an estimated 668,000 students statewide.
BESE board Vice President Jim Garvey said one reason he is confident the new districts will be approved by the Justice Department is they were endorsed by the two minority members of the 11-member board: Linda Johnson, of Plaquemine, and Louella Givens, of New Orleans.
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.
A majority-minority district is one where black people, who make up a minority of residents in Louisiana, nnake up a majority of residents in the BESE district.
Under the map approved by lawmakers, the District 2 slot held by Givens is 61.7 percent black and the District 8 seat held by Johnson is 61.1 percent black.
The new boundaries apply to eight, single-member districts.
All eight are up for election Oct. 22.
Three other BESE members are named by the governor.
Each district is supposed to have about 567,00 residents.
The District 6 seat held by Chas Roemer, of Baton Rouge, consists primarily of a large section of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and Washington parishes and parts of Ascension and Tangipahoa parishes.
Roemer’s district originally had 25 percent more people than the targeted figure.
Givens’ district had 30 percent fewer people than the target, mostly because of population losses after Hurricane Katrina.
The new boundaries won House approval 94-0 and passed the Senate 33-1 with five abstentions.