Louisiana Desegregation Cases

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Hall vs. St. Helena Parish School Board

Desegregation of the Louisiana school system is an issue that still touches the state today.

Most people look at the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas as the start of desegregation of the school system. St. Helena Parish School Board.  John Hall submitted a submitted against the St. Helena parish School board in 1952 when the School District ran out of money to  fund a the construction of a new school.  Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall represented Hall during this desegregation case.

Hall vs. St. Helena Parish School Board was finally resolved on March 18th, 2018 

Since May 20th, 1960 when the Supreme Court entered an order to enjoin the state and St. Helena Parish School board from excluding African American Students from public schools because of race, the U.S. District Court has overseen the school district’s efforts to comply with the court order.

Compliance with the order is demonstrated by reaching an “unitary status”. The school must demonstrate that it eliminated intentional student segregation in student/faculty assignment, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities.

April 5th, 2016 – St. Helena School district reached unitary status in all areas except student assignment

February 15th, 2018 – All parties of litigation filed a joint motion seeking dismissal of action.  Declaration that district had reached unitary status.

March 14th, 2018 – The judge granted the joint motion dissolving all injunctions and dismissing the matter with prejudice.

Listing of Louisiana Desegregation Court Cases

Even today, many of Louisiana’s Cities and School Districts are attempting to achieve “unitary status” from their individual court cases.

The “Parish Desegregation Status Matrix” from Tulane University’s Cowen Institute For Public Education Initiatives shows that only 21 of the 69 districts had achieved unitary status by August 10th, 2010. 8 districts never had a court order. 42 still remained under their 1950-1970s court orders.

The matrix shows the court cases which marked the end of segregation in Louisiana’s school systems today. It also shows the efforts parishes made to reach that “unitary status”.

Unitary Status does not mean that everything is “okay”. Cases have been examined.

Thomas vs. St. Martin School Board

On 2009 – A federal judge reviewed old court filings from St. Martin Parish School board to question whether the 1965 case had been officially closed in 1974.

2012 – U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote ruled that the case remains open since the 1974 court order bringing the case to a close was ambiguous.

PARISHES RECENTLY ACHIEVING UNITARY STATUS

Since August 10th, 2010, the date of Parish Desegregation of Matrix,  the following parishes have reached unitary status in all areas:

(Current as of April 15th, 2018)

Evangeline Parish –  unitary status granted May 16th, 2012 – injunction entered August 5th, 1969

Natchitoches Parish – Granted unitary status September 29th, 2017 – Case is still not closed, court will continue to monitor progress made in case until December 31st, 2020. Initial motion was filed September 17th, 1980 –

St. Helena Parish – March, 14th 2018

-During this time period, school boards parishes have worked to achieve unitary status in some of the categories while working towards the unitary status.

Sources:

http://www.wafb.com/story/37727803/oldest-school-desegregation-case-in-la-finally-resolved

http://www.theadvocate.com/acadiana/news/article_48e2a0ce-b8f3-5e71-9e3b-e7fb6f24767a.html

https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/louisiana/lawdce/6:1965cv11053/64869/392

https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/louisiana/lawdce/1:1980cv01422/98195/149