Board of Education wants old decree lifted - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Board of Education wants old decree lifted

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January 25, 2006

Albany - In 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional, but it wasn't until 1963 that it was challenged in Dougherty County. In that case, Gaines v. Board of Education, the Courts ruled that Dougherty County must integrate, but even through the 80's some schools in the County remained 100% black.

A new plan was drawn, requiring schools to be 50% black, 50% white, with no more than 25% deviation, but Dougherty County is about 85% black, and so is the Dougherty County School system, so it would be impossible to have only 75% of any race in a school. That's why the system voted to do away with the injunction by the court that has kept an old ruling on the books.

School System Attorney Tommy Coleman says, "The school system operates under a continuing injunction from the mid-sixties, to desegregate the Dougherty County School system."

That injunction worked. Today kids of all races can attend Dougherty County schools, but not at the ratio set out in the injunction which says it has to be 50/50 black and white. That's because Dougherty County schools are 85% black, and it would be impossible to meet that standard.

Coleman says, "A few years ago, the system asked the Federal Court to lift the continuing Injunction."

The ruling basically requires the system to draw districts that don't make much practical sense. "People would travel past one school to get to the school where their child was," says Coleman, "and they could have gone to the closest school, so those kinds of things will be eliminated."

Coleman says the School Board feels like they have put discrimination behind them, and feel they are prepared to be declared a unitary school system, like most of the school systems around the state.

On January 31st at 2:30PM, a status hearing will be held on the case, to decide what, if anything, needs to be done about the injunction.

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