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Federal Judge to Mississippi: Cease School Segregation

US District Judge Tom Lee has given the Walthall County School District in Mississippi 30 days to amend its student transfer policy and ordered an immediate halt to the alleged “clustering” of white students into certain classes in Tylertown, Miss., elementary schools.

“The district shall cease using race in the assignment of students to classrooms in a manner that results in the racial segregation of students,” Judge Lee said in his eight-page order.

“The district shall randomly assign students to classrooms at the Tylertown Elementary Schools through the use of a student management software program,” the judge said.

The action stems from a federal desegregation order issued in August 1970 – nearly 40 years ago. The case was closed for lack of activity in 2001.

In 2007, lawyers with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division contacted the Mississippi school district to monitor its compliance with the 1970 desegregation order. The action revealed two alleged violations.

The district was allowing more than 300 students – most of them white – to transfer from their assigned schools to a predominately white school, the Salem Attendance Center, outside their residential zone, according to court documents.

The second alleged violation involved grouping white students into a few designated classes at three other schools in Tylertown. The action created a significant number of all-black classrooms at each elementary grade level, documents say.

“It is unacceptable for school districts to act in a way that encourages or tolerates the resegregation of public schools,” said Thomas Perez, who heads the Civil Rights Division.

Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor continues: