School Segregation Remains Problem in Many Schools Nationwide

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is pleased to announce that a federal district court in Louisiana has approved a school desegregation plan involving the St. Martin Parish school system in south-central Louisiana. In recent months, LDF and local counsel, Gideon T. Carter, III, in partnership with the St. Martin School Board and the U.S. Department of Justice, developed a new student assignment plan that is designed to desegregate the parish’s school system. On January 19, 2016, LDF presented live expert testimony to explain the benefits of this agreement to the court and the public. On January 21, 2016, after hearing testimony and visiting several of the affected schools, the court signed an order approving the desegregation plan.

“This desegregation plan marks a new era for Black students in St. Martin Parish,” said Deuel Ross, Assistant Counsel at LDF. “For the first time ever, this plan promises to bring true racial integration to all St. Martin Parish schools.”

First filed in 1965, LDF has represented the Black community for over fifty years in the Thomas v. School Board of St. Martin Parish case, which returned to active litigation in recent years. Thereafter, negotiations began anew to address the continued existence of racial segregation in a number of schools in the district, particularly at the elementary and middle school level, and to ensure long overdue educational equality for Black students.

“After a half-century of litigation, St. Martin Parish’s Black students and families can finally look forward to a future with equality of access and resources when the new school year starts next fall,” added Monique Lin-Luse, Assistant Counsel at LDF.

This plan is one of a number of other recent agreements that aim to ensure educational equality for all of St. Martin Parish’s students. Additional agreements seek to increase high school graduation rates, decrease the use of overly punitive discipline policies, promote diversity amongst teachers and professional staff, and improve school facilities. Together, these agreements promise to dramatically improve the quality of education afforded to all students in St. Martin Parish schools.

Unfortunately, St. Martin Parish schools are not alone. Racial segregation remains a problem in many school systems across the country. Since 1954, following LDF’s landmark victory in the U.S. Supreme Court school desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, LDF has been a leader in reducing racial disparities in education and advocating for the closing of achievement gaps and the promotion of student success. 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 federal district court’s consent decree in Thomas v. School Board of St. Martin 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. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) represents African-American students enrolled in the St. Martin Parish school system in Thomas v. School Board of St. Martin Parish, a longstanding school desegregation case in Louisiana. LDF, along with the St. Martin Parish School Board and the United States Department of Justice, recently entered into an agreement regarding the assignment of students to the St. Martin Parish schools.  On January 19, 2016, in federal court, LDF presented expert testimony explaining how the agreed-upon plan improves educational opportunity and racial diversity in St. Martin Parish schools.  The student assignment agreement, like the recent agreements on quality of education and student discipline, must be approved by the court. The court has already approved agreements regarding faculty and staff assignment, facilities, and extracurricular activities.