DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - The Dougherty County School System has made a motion to lift a 30-year-old court order dealing with racial segregation in schools.
The court placed the order on the school system in June of 1980. Since then, the racial makeup of the students and staff of the school system has changed greatly and officials said they could not meet the 30-year-old standard. So they have filed a motion to do away with the old order.
Throughout the schools in Dougherty County right now, students are learning under one roof, regardless of their race.
That is something that didn't happen many years ago.
"Monroe was the black school and Albany High was the white school," recalled Tommy Coleman, a student at Albany High School in the late 60's and currently the Dougherty County School Board attorney.
In the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education ruling, the court found running separate but equal schools was not legal. But for many years after the ruling, the Dougherty County School System didn't change operations.
"It was really 10 years later before a suit was filed that ultimately said the Dougherty County School System was operating a dual school system illegally and unconstitutionally," said Coleman.
After a lawsuit in 1980, the court put forth a number of orders for the school system. One that still stands is that the school's population be 50, 50 black and white.
"As the community has changed, it has become an impossible standard to meet," said Coleman.
On November 6, the school system filed a motion to lift the order.
"What the order required us to do, was anytime there was a change in the district or a school was opened or closed, we'd have to file with the court about the change and demonstrate to the court that was proposed by the Dougherty County School system did not have the effect of re-segregating that particular school or the system," explained Coleman.
In the motion to lift the order, the system outlined the change of demographics over the years.
In 1980, the school system was about 50 percent white. Now, it's only about six percent white.
"At the same time the system would argue that the vestiges of segregation by law are gone," said Coleman.
Coleman said a lot has changed since 1980. The majority of board members are now black, the school system has a black superintendent and about 80 percent of teachers are black.
With the motion, the school system put forward a suggestion to appoint a committee to do their own investigation about how the system is operating now.
It will be up to the judge to make a decision about the motion.
A hearing will likely be set, but no date has been announced at this time.
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