Desegregation Order: Mississippi District Must Merge Schools

Associated Press, May 17, 2016

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U.S. District Judge Debra Brown ruled that the town of Cleveland must merge its two high schools and two middle schools.

“The delay in desegregation has deprived generations of students of the constitutionally guaranteed right of an integrated education,” Brown wrote in Friday’s 96-page opinion. “Although no court order can right these wrongs, it is the duty of the district to ensure that not one more student suffers under this burden.”

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Brown ordered the district to merge East Side High, where all but one student is black, with Cleveland High, where 48 percent of students are white and 45 percent are black. Similarly, the district must merge D.M. Smith Middle, where all but two students are black, with Margaret Green Junior High, where 41 percent of students are white and 54 percent are black. Across the entire 3,700-student district, about 29 percent of students are white and 67 percent are black. The state counts the remainder as Asian or Hispanic.

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In a statement released Monday, the Justice Department said it “shares the sentiments of the court that the district’s commitment to the education of its children will no doubt ensure that the gem that is Cleveland, along with its surrounding areas, only shine brighter as the shadows of segregation recede.”

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