Webster Parish schools granted unitary status - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Webster Parish schools granted unitary status

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After operating under a federal ruling for nearly three decades, a U.S. District Court Judge has granted unitary status to the Webster Parish School Board. 
The judgment was issued Tuesday by Judge S. Maurice Hicks, Jr.
Public schools in Webster Parish will no longer be forced to abide by a 1974 federal court order - Blaine Gilbert vs Webster Parish School Board, which addressed racial disparities and inequalities associated with African American students and the ratio of black teachers to white ones.
According to the judgment, “The Webster Parish School Board having acted in accordance with the orders of the court and in compliance with applicable legal principles has in fact eliminated the vestiges of past discrimination in all areas of operation such that further supervision by this court is no longer warranted.”
In 2013 an intended move by the school board to seek unitary status sparked public outcry from the Minden Chapter of the NAACP.  That same year Minden NAACP President Ken Wallace said, “When Butch Williams was superintendent the system lied on the reports submitted to the state concerning the number of black teachers at each school.
Also that year, Minden’s NAACP Vice-President Samuel Mims said that although the 1974 court order required Webster Parish Schools to have a teaching staff which reflects a minimum of 36% African Americans, the actual total was only 17%.
Records of a 2011 court memorandum in reference to a Motion to Modify Student Assignment Plan filed by the Defendant, the Webster Parish School Board,  stated that “no plaintiffs or representatives of plaintiffs were present during the course of oral arguments. The defendants informed the court that to their knowledge all of the plaintiffs were deceased."
Despite the recent judgment, Gilbert said he has not received correspondence from the U.S. District Court or the Webster Parish School Board regarding the matter or the recent decision to terminate the 1974 order. 
“I feel that the recent decision should be void, because the information reportedly submitted to the court - that all members associated with the initial suit were deceased is false,” Gilbert said Wednesday. “I’m not dead. I haven’t heard anything from the school system or the court. 
Gilbert added that the only information he has received over the last few years about the order has been through individuals of the Webster Parish community, but nothing official. 
Messages left seeking comment from the Webster Parish School Board were not immediately returned.
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