MARKSVILLE, Louisiana — The Avoyelles Parish School District has been declared desegregated in all schools, after an almost 50-year process.
The Town Talk reports (http://townta.lk/1E1OR23) a consent order was signed Friday at a special meeting of the Avoyelles Parish School Board, effectively emerging the district from the case that began in 1967.
Avoyelles District Attorney Charles Riddle III says U.S. District Judge Dee Drell orally approved the order on Thursday.
Riddle say Drell likely will issue an opinion to ratify the decree this week. Riddle has been working on this case for 13 years.
The consent decree declares the district unitary but keeps the case open and under the jurisdiction of the federal court for three years. The district may file a motion to dismiss the case after June 1, 2018.
In the meantime, Superintendent Blaine Dauzat and board members must report annually to the court its progress on efforts already in place to meet six benchmarks called Green factors like facilities and student assignment.
"You've got my pledge, and I know you have the pledge of the board and ... of the staff, that we are going to ensure there is no risk of us going back into this case," Dauzat said.
That means maintaining efforts to desegregate schools with disproportionate racial makeup of the student population. Currently those are Lafargue Elementary and Bunkie Elementary Learning Academy.
The Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences is "close," Riddle said, as its minority-to-majority ratio is at 30 percent. He said it increases slightly each year.
Several at the meeting described the announcement as "a long time coming." Although originally opened in 1967, the case picked up steam in 1987 when an intervener brought forth issues regarding student assignments.
Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, http://www.thetowntalk.com