Court date set for school district
by Chance Wright
Nov 01, 2012 | 2571 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Senior U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi Glen H. Davidson has signed an order setting a hearing for 10 a.m. Dec. 11 in the case of the Cleveland School District's desegregation plan proposed to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"After reviewing the district's proposed desegregation plan, the government's objections, the district's response, and the government's reply brief, as well as all supporting documentation, the court determines that a hearing is appropriate in this matter," Davidson wrote in his order.

The hearing will be heard at the United States Courthouse in Oxford.

This case began on July 24, 1965, when numerous individual plaintiffs sued the Bolivar County Board of Education, including the Cleveland School District, which was known at the time as Bolivar County School District Number 4. The plaintiffs argued that the board had white-only and black-only schools.

In 1965, Judge Claude Feemster Clayton ordered the board of education to submit its first plan of desegregation and then in the 1967-1968 school year Clayton ordered the board to desegregate faculty.

Judge William C. Keady was assigned the case on Sept. 9, 1968. Adding more confusion to the situation, Keady ordered that by the 1970-1971 school year students would be assigned to attend a particular school in the district based on the zone of residence that the student lived within.

In his signed order Keady wrote, "the district should employ or assign not less than one of six classroom teachers of a different race … in each of its schools."

The district has been under the supervision and jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi since 1965.

In 1989 the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and requested that the court allow the government to intervene in this lawsuit as a Plaintiff-Intervenor.

The government alleged that the Cleveland School District operated a racially dual system of public education in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1992 the district and government agreed that a magnet school program should be implemented at the junior high level to eliminate the "continuing racial identifiability of both Margaret Green Junior High and Eastwood Junior High (D.M. Smith)"

The district again received an order to submit a plan in 1995 to establish a high school level magnet program to "further desegregate both high schools.

The government then maintains that on Sept. 12, 2006, it initiated a periodic review of the Cleveland School District to assess whether the District was in compliance with the court's previous desegregation orders. As a result, the government conducted site visits in schools within the district from May 11-14, 2008. After the visits the government contended that the district was in violation of it desegregation obligations in the areas of student assignment and faculty assignment.

On Aug. 18, 2011, the district argued that the court should find the district in good faith compliance with prior desegregation orders and dismiss the government's motion for further relief.

In response to the district argument the court said that the district had made "remarkable" strides over the years and focused the attention on the desegregation of faculty at East Side High School and D.M. Smith Middle School.

On March 28, 2012, Davidson issued an order requiring the Cleveland School District to submit a proposed desegregation plan to further integrate East Side High School and D .M. Smith Middle School, and to achieve racial balance among the faculty at each of its schools by May 15, 2012.

The district filed its desegregation plan on May 15, 2012 and on August 30,2012, the Government filed objections to the portion of the proposed plan governing the integration of East Side High School and D.M. Smith Middle School.

On Oct. 3, the district filed its response to the Government's objections.

After seeking and obtaining leave of the court to do so, the government filed a reply brief in support of its objections to the district's proposed desegregation plan on Oct. 26.