The Justice Department announced today that it reached a settlement agreement with the Fort Payne City School District in Alabama and private plaintiffs in a longstanding school desegregation case. The parties filed a proposed consent order in the federal district court in Birmingham, Ala.
If approved by the court, the proposed order would declare the 3,100-student school district partially unitary in the areas of extracurricular activities, school facilities and transportation, and would dismiss the case in those areas. The order would require the district to take additional steps to reach full compliance, including ensuring that its student transfer practices do not impede desegregation and taking measures to promote racial diversity in its faculty and staff. The district may seek full dismissal of the case upon compliance with the terms of the two-year agreement. If approved, the U.S. will monitor and enforce the district’s compliance with the order.
“We are pleased that the Fort Payne City school district has demonstrated significant progress in complying with its desegregation obligations and a willingness to take additional measures to reach our mutual goal of ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to working with the district over the next two years to implement the measures required by this order and bring this case to a close after so many years.”
This case is part of a statewide desegregation lawsuit, Lee v. Macon County Board of Education, which was filed in 1963.
The enforcement of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bars race discrimination in public schools is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.