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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
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Limestone schools released from order
Judge dismisses system from desegregation case

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ELKMONT — Limestone County Schools are no longer racially divided as they were 37 years ago, at a time when board members resisted federal orders to desegregate and there was one system for blacks and another for whites.

A July 14, 1970, federal court order forced the system to integrate, and the Department of Justice has decided school zone lines since then. In the Swancott community in the southeastern part of the county, the order required white students to attend Tanner High, a K-12 school, and black students to attend Creekside Elementary and East Limestone High.

Not anymore.

On June 28, the U.S. District Court dismissed Limestone County from the order, which stemmed from the 1963 Lee v. Macon County Board of Education case that abolished desegregation in the state.

Board attorney Byrd Latham told school officials at Tuesday's meeting that the appeal period has ended and the system has obtained unitary status.

Latham said that in 2002, the DOJ wanted to review systems under desegregation orders to see if systems were complying. Justice officials visited Limestone County and collected data and decided the system has complied.

"You now have total supervision, but you've got to go out there and do right," Latham said. "You can't have unequal facilities or course offerings."

Superintendent Barry Carroll said unitary status means the system can redraw zone lines without DOJ approval. That means the board could rezone some Creekside and East Limestone students to Johnson Elementary to alleviate overcrowding. That is a plan the board previously considered but withdrew under public outcry. Carroll said the board has not discussed revisiting that plan.

The board went into a closed session after the regular meeting, and The Daily was unable to talk to Carroll about when this unitary status will impact whites and blacks in the Swancott area.

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