Justice Department Files Proposed Settlement in Chambers County, Alabama School Desegregation Case

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

           WASHINGTON The Department of Justice, together with the Chambers County Board of Education and private plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, filed a proposed consent order designed to provide equal educational opportunities for all students and allow the district to fulfill its obligations in a longstanding school desegregation case. The proposed consent order, which requires approval by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, would require the school district to build a new, consolidated high school; create a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) magnet school; appoint a Desegregation Advisory Committee; and take other corrective action.

           “This proposed consent order reinforces the Civil Rights Division’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that all students receive the equal educational opportunities to which they are entitled regardless of their race or color,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This week marks 68 years since the Supreme Court declared in Brown v. Board of Education that ‘separate but equal has no place’ in our society, yet too many students find themselves in racially segregated schools. We will continue working to deliver on the unmet promises of Brown v. Board for the students of the Chambers County School District and for others across the country.” 

           “Education is the cornerstone of American society,” said U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama. “My office fully supports the Civil Rights Division’s efforts to ensure that equal educational opportunities are available to all students, and I am pleased that this case is close to a final resolution.”  

           The proposed consent order is part of a desegregation case monitored and enforced by the United States. In reviewing the district’s compliance with the previous court orders in this case, the United States found that the district failed to meet earlier commitments to build a single, consolidated high school and maintained racially identifiable Black schools with fewer academic and extracurricular offerings than most of the other district schools. If approved, the order will require the district to, among other steps:

  • Build and operate a single, consolidated high school on a neutral site to serve all district students in grades nine through twelve;
  • Establish a STEAM Academy for all district kindergarteners through eighth graders and later renovate an existing facility to accommodate the magnet school;
  • Make information about academic course offerings, extracurricular activities, and special programs, including gifted and talented programming, available on the district’s website and provide that information directly to parents;
  • Ensure non-discrimination on the basis of race in its discipline practices by engaging technical assistance and revising the code of conduct;
  • Improve its practices for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff at each school; and
  • Work with a newly-created and diverse Desegregation Advisory Committee to mitigate any desegregation-related issues that may arise.

           The order would also require regular reporting to the court, the Justice Department, and private plaintiffs. The court would retain jurisdiction over the consent order during its implementation, and the Justice Department would monitor the district’s compliance with the consent order.  

           This week marked the 68th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. The Civil Rights Division continues to prioritize enforcement of desegregation orders in school districts formerly segregated by law, to ensure that all children can build a foundation of educational success. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt, and additional information about the work of the Educational Opportunities Section is available at https://www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities-section.

           Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations at www.civilrights.justice.gov/.