NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Two rural school districts in the Texas panhandle are no longer subject to a 1970 desegregation order requiring them to consider racial diversity when transferring students, the 5th Circuit ruled.
To achieve desegregation, the Justice Department filed suit in 1970 against several school districts, their governing boards, Texas officials and the state education agency, resulting in a court order barring schools from transferring any students in a way that would further segregate or roll back desegregation efforts.
Samnorwood and Harrold Independent School Districts, both of which had fewer than 300 students, were subject to a modified order that tracked their transfers and alerted the state if they exceeded the maximum “tolerable percentage change in diversity.”
The districts decided not to enter their transfers into the state system because they were never defendants in the 1970 lawsuit and they had each voluntarily desegregated their districts in the 1960s. But because they did not participate, they were denied state funding.
Judge Garwood agreed with the districts that the state had no basis for imposing sanctions on them, when the districts were never found to have violated the state constitution or racially discriminated against students.
Thus, the Texas Education Agency cannot enforce student-transfer requirements against the school districts, the court concluded.