5th Circuit Upholds Unitary Ruling for Mississippi School District

By Mark Walsh — February 12, 2008 1 min read
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A federal appeals court has upheld a district court’s finding that the Madison County, Miss., school district had achieved unitary status and thus could be released from decades of court supervision for its desegregation efforts.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in New Orleans, ruled unanimously on Feb. 11 in Anderson v. School Board of Madison County that the 11,000-student school system had “eliminated the vestiges of its former de jure segregated school system to the extent practicable.”

In 2005, at the time the district court was considering the Madison County district’s request for unitary status, the district’s racial breakdown for students was 58 percent white and 38 percent African-American (and evidently 4 percent other or undisclosed).

“We are ... cognizant of the important interest in returning schools to the control of local authorities at the earliest practicable date in order to restore their true accountability to the citizenry and to the political process,” the appeals court said, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s desegregation rulings in Freeman v. Pitts and Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.