Today, a federal court ordered a county in Walthall County in Mississippi to “stop segregating its schools by grouping African American students into all-black classrooms and allowing white students to transfer to the county’s only majority-white school.” From the Justice Department’s press release:
“More than 55 years after Brown v. Board of Education, it is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We will take action so that school districts subject to federal desegregation orders comply with their obligation to eliminate vestiges of separate black and white schools.”
According to the motion, the district’s practice of permitting hundreds of students — the vast majority whom are white — to attend schools outside their assigned residential attendance zone without restriction prompted a disproportionate number of white students to attend a single school in the district, leaving a number of other schools disproportionately black.
Indeed, evidence in the case suggested that the community regarded certain schools in the district as “white schools” or “black schools.” The United States also asserted that officials in certain district schools grouped, or “clustered,” white students together in particular classrooms, resulting in large numbers of all-black classes at every grade level in those schools.
After being confirmed as attorney general, Eric Holder said that he would make sure the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division return to its traditional role of pushing “high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly.” During the Bush administration, officials — who were hired for their “strong conservative credentials” rather than their civil rights experience — “discouraged such tactics.”