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Recommendations to end desegregation case, centralized high school, moving Hammond Junior High

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AMITE, Louisiana — A suggestion to consolidate schools from a court official in the federal desegregation case against the Tangipahoa Parish School System surprised the defendant's counsel as much as the public, said an attorney representing the school system.

The Daily Star reports (http://bit.ly/1H5hvWL ) Ashley Sandage, who is lead negotiation and settlement counsel in the case, said at the School Board meeting Tuesday that the proposal to move and combine campuses came from Court Compliance Officer Donald Massey as a way to start talks on ending the case.

Attorneys on both sides plan to meet with Massey today to discuss his proposal, "point by point," Sandage said on Wednesday, adding nothing in the proposal has been finalized yet.

"It's strictly a starting point," she said.

Meanwhile, the district's attorneys are filing motions to be considered officially integrated one area at a time, she said.

Attorneys recently asked the court to remove supervision in the area of staff assignment. So far, the plaintiffs' counsel has not opposed their motion, which was filed Friday and will be considered at a later date.

Sandage also said that Massey's proposal was not meant to be made public. It was revealed Saturday at the Second Saturday Breakfast.

School Board President Brett Duncan said at the board meeting that none of the board members leaked the proposal.

Tangipahoa NAACP President Pat Morris said Tuesday in an email to the newspaper that while Massey's proposal is controversial, it is starting a conversation.

"There are some who are happy, and some who are not happy. But the one thing Attorney Massey's proposal has done, and that is it started a purpose of seeing dialogue in the community begin," she said.

The proposal includes creating a new centralized high school by consolidating Independence, Amite and Loranger high schools, consolidating Ponchatoula's elementary schools and moving Hammond Junior High Magnet School to a new campus near Hammond High Magnet School.


Information from: The Daily Star, http://www.hammondstar.com

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