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Cleveland, Mississippi Schools Ordered to Desegregate

Segregation in schools
Seventh grade science students at the Harlem Village Academy Charter School in New York City. |

A district court has finally issued an order for schools in the school district of Cleveland, Mississippi to desegregate.

This decision comes 50 years after a group of 131 students and their parents filed an action suit against Bolivar County, which is now known as the Cleveland School District, claiming that the county was still operating schools "on a racially segregated basis," according to a report from CNN.

The decision also comes 62 years after the Supreme Court made a ruling saying that segregation is unconstitutional but despite that, schools in the town of Cleveland are still segregated as black and white, with the now-defunct Illinois Central Railroad tracks serving as the dividing line. The CNN report cited the court opinion that came with the order, which said that "half of Cleveland's schools – the schools on the east side of the railroad tracks enroll a student body that is at least 20 percent more white than the student population."

According to U.S. District Judge Debra M. Brown, the judge who penned the order, the fact that desegregation still existed meant that students in the district have long been deprived of a "constitutionally granted right of an integrated education."

However, the school district presented two alternate proposals, one of which included a "combined middle school with two racially balanced high schools." Their proposals were rejected by Judge Brown, who called their proposals "unconstitutional."

New York Times says the judge instead ordered the district to abide by a desegregation plan that would be recommended by the Justice Department. The school district, however, said that it will be appealing the court order and will look for other options.

According to a report from The Guardian, the school district has three weeks to show the court a timeline for the desegregation in order to get rid of the dual system that the district implements.

The DOJ plan specifies the consolidation of the East Side high school with the Cleveland high school, including the middle schools where their students come from and these are the all-black DM Smith school and the white Margaret Green school.

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