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Court Grants District Desegregated Status

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Ending more than three decades of federal court supervision over the desegregation of a Mississippi school district, the 5th Circuit ruled that the Madison County School District was entitled to full "unitary" status.

The district had been working toward this goal since 1969, when a federal court ordered it to desegregate its schools. In June 2004, it won its bid to have the court formally recognize its full compliance with the mandate to end its practice of de jure segregation.

But the government and a group of private citizens appealed, claiming the district was not fully desegregated with respect to the magnet program at Velma Jackson High School, which has failed to attract white students to diversify its 95.8 percent black student body.

The school district acted in "good faith" to welcome diversity, but was faced with "an apparently insurmountable challenge to attracting white students" that had more to do with demographic and cultural factors than racial bias, the court ruled.

The court granted plaintiffs' motion and extended "our compliments to those involved in bringing about this accomplishment."

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