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Federal judge orders Mississippi schools to desegregate

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi [official website] on Tuesday ordered [DOJ press release] a southern Mississippi school district to end its practice of allowing students to transfer from their assigned schools and classroom groupings, resulting in a segregated school system. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] initially brought a lawsuit to enforce a 1970 order against the Walthall County School District [official website] that prohibited the district from racially segregating its schools. According to court filings, schools in the district had allowed about 300 students each year, a majority of them white, to transfer to a single school outside of their assigned area, leaving other schools in the district with a disproportionate number of black students. Additionally, some schools had assembled classrooms along racial lines. Judge Tom Lee's order requires the school district to change its transfer policy to allow a transfer only where the student has provided a compelling justification for the transfer and to revise its classroom assignment protocols. Lee's order stipulated that the school district must use a software program that randomly allocates students to classrooms to avoid segregation. School officials did not file any opposition in the case and have agreed to follow the judge's order.

Previously, the Walthall County School District had allowed [WP report] white students to transfer from schools located in Tylertown and attend the Salem Attendance Center about 10 miles away. The Tylertown schools host around 1,700 students with a makeup of about 75 percent African American students. More than 550 students go to the Salem Attendance Center, and approximately 66 percent of those students are white. The US Supreme Court originally struck down school segregation in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education [opinion text].

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