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Consolidation revived Lawrence deseg case

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

Lawrence County’s desegregation case was dormant for nearly 25 years until the school board consolidated R.A. Hubbard and Courtland schools about four years ago, said Moulton attorney Jerome Thompson, who represents the school system.

Thompson could not provide details about current litigation because of client confidentiality, but assisted with the court order’s historical background.

“When we consolidated the schools, we had one faculty member that asked the court to intervene because he did not feel that the school system’s hiring practices were meeting the terms of the original court order,” he said.

“(U.S. District) Judge David Proctor denied his application to intervene but sent a directive to the NAACP Defense Fund and the school system that we bring our hiring practices up to Singleton standards.”

The Singleton standards for school desegregation stem from the Singleton v. Jackson cases of 1965-66 when the judge ruled that school boards had a duty to integrate, not merely to stop segregating.

There are six Singleton standards that regulate school board practices like hiring, transportation and curriculum.

A U.S. Supreme Court case involving the Montgomery County Board of Education in 1969 further addressed the issue of hiring and faculty assignments.

It was the first time the Supreme Court gave school systems a definitive standard for faculty desegregation.

Thompson said this is the first of the six Singleton standards the school will be addressing.

“It is anticipated that the system will look at the other five standards without being instructed by the court and will work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to meet those standards,” said Thompson.

However, residents shouldn’t expect an immediate change, he said.

“This is the first of many steps toward gaining unitarian status. This first step took us about 18 months to negotiate and reach a consensus with the court,” said Thompson.

“However, this is the first real attention and review from the court, and the Board of Education is committed to gaining unitarian status so they can provide the best education possible to Lawrence County students without court supervision.

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