LDF Releases Statement on New Consent Decree in Chambers County Desegregation Case
Read a PDF of our statement here.
Yesterday, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), co-counsel Stanley F. Gray of Gray, Langford, Sapp, McGowan, Gray, Gray & Nathanson, the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Chambers County Board of Education in Lafayette, Alabama, filed a proposed consent decree for court approval, outlining several steps to effectively desegregate the school district. The new decree of consent in the long-running case, Anthony T. Lee et al v Chambers County School Board, follows the negotiations between the District; the GM; and the private plaintiff class, who are black students and parents in the district. If the federal district court approves, the terms of the consent judgment will become effective immediately.
“We are pleased to arrive at a consent decree that addresses the many concerns our clients have raised as essential to ensuring the effectiveness of the desegregation process in Chambers County,” said GeDá Jones Herbert, LDF Special Counsel. Education. “It was especially important that black students in the district had equal, high-quality educational opportunities in safe, modern facilities. Keep LaFayette High School open until construction of the new consolidated school begins and require the district to announce the neutral location where it intends to build the new school by the end of the school year 2022-2023 were important conditions for our customers. We are also pleased to announce that current teachers and other school staff in the district will retain their jobs regardless of closures or consolidations, and that community members will continue to raise their voices as the process continues. Under the consent decree, the district is to establish a Desegregation Advisory Committee, comprised of parents and students, who will have regular opportunities to share feedback and feedback on the implementation of the plan, alongside our own annual compliance check.
“The detailed desegregation measures outlined in this consent decree are a promising development in this case, which stems from an earlier desegregation order in 1993,” said Amber Koonce, Fried Frank Fellow at DFL. “Under this Consent Decree, the District must comply with a number of mandates specifically focused on improving the quality of and access to education for Black students in Chambers County – from the Commitment to a recruitment and retention plan for black teachers, to the close monitoring of bus routes for students, to track access to educational opportunities and to report the dispensation of discipline so that any unequal treatment based on race can be identified and ultimately eliminated .
“This agreement reflects plaintiffs’ persistence in demanding equal and quality education for African American children and their families in Chambers County,” said co-lawyer Stanley F. Gray.
Along with the creation of a desegregation advisory committee and outlining a specific, time-limited plan to consolidate current Lafayette High School and Valley High School students into a new facility, the consent decree requires the district to open a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) at the current Eastside Elementary School for kindergarten through eighth grade, beginning next school year, and immediately begin district-wide recruiting to enroll a desegregated student population. The District is also committed to:
- Widely share and directly provide parents with information on all extracurricular activities offered at each school in the District at the start of each school year
- Ensure that all students have access to academic offerings and special district programs, including the Gifted and Talented Student Program
- Regularly monitor and evaluate the disciplinary practices of each school in the district to ensure that they are free from racial discrimination
- Retain technical assistance to improve disciplinary policies and practices, including the addition of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and restorative justice and revision of the code of conduct with input from students and families.
Read the full proposed consent order
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multidisciplinary, collaborative center within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957, although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to gender equality. rights.