On January 31, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman entered a consent order submitted by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) on behalf of Black parents in Banks v. St. James Parish School Board, a school desegregation case. For months, LDF and local counsel, Gideon T. Carter, III, have worked with the St. James School Board and the U.S. Department of Justice to develop a new desegregation plan for the school system.
First filed by LDF in 1965, the Banks case was initially successful in desegregating schools in the parish. In recent years, however, LDF was asked to negotiate a new consent decree in response to the Black community’s concerns about the continued existence of three nearly all-Black schools and the 2016 decision by a charter academy to open a fourth Black school.
“The desegregation plan requires the District to fully integrate its three historically Black schools and offers students several new and innovative programs, including a Montessori school,” said Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “This plan seeks to ensure true racial integration and to improve the quality of education for all students attending St. James Parish schools.”
The consent decree also requires the District to reform its overly punitive student discipline policies, improve and equalize school facilities, ensure racial diversity amongst teachers and professional staff, and promote students’ equal access to extracurricular activities.
Unfortunately, racial segregation remains a problem in many school systems across the country. Since 1954, following LDF’s landmark victory in Brown v. Board of Education, LDF has been a leader in reducing racial disparities and racial isolation in education and advocating for the closing of achievement gaps. Today, LDF continues to advocate for equal educational opportunities for all students as it litigates on behalf of Black families in dozens of school desegregation cases nationwide.
Click here to see the proposed federal consent decree in Banks v. School Board of St. James Parish.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.