On August 5, 1965, students of the Monroe City School System (MCSS), on behalf of black students and parents in the City of Monroe, filed a suit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana alleging racial segregation and discrimination in the operation of the schools. On September 17, 1965, a permanent injunction prohibiting the continued operation of a segregated school system was signed. After another decree was signed on February 11, 1970, the United States joined the action. In February of 1970, the Court also vacated the previous order and adopted a new plan that was eventually overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for failure to establish a unitary system. On August 5th, 1970, the Court entered a decree in accordance with the Fifth Circuit mandate that was approved on June 30, 1971. This decree established a neighborhood school plan and oversight committee.
There was subsequent litigation in the 1970s and 1980s brought by intervenors who challenged the validity of the plan, resulting in an appeal consolidating the intervention connected with this case with an appeal of another school desegregation case, Taylor v. Ouachita Parish School Board, 513 F. Supp. 375 (SD-LA-0021)
. The appeal attempted to consolidate the geographically overlapping school districts and relieve the MCSS of its desegregation plan. This litigation resulted in an order to eliminate the overlapping area between the two school districts and that MCSS devise a new desegregation plan that would ensure there was no discrimination in reassigning students to one of the two school systems (MCSS or Ouachita Parish schools).
On July 6, 1992, the Court granted, in part, a motion for unitary status (that is, a motion declaring that vestiges of past segregation had been eliminated), stating that the MCSS was unitary in the area of facilities, extracurricular activities, and hiring and retention of teachers and administrators, but was not unitary in the area of teacher and principal assignments, student assignments, and transportation.
On August 14, 2008, the District Court (Judge Robert G. James) issued an order clarifying the reporting requirements of the decree and amending it to state that the school district must report on its enrollment by grade and race for each school for the current year and the name and race of each teacher employed for the current year by October 15th of each year.
On March 26, 2010, the Court amended the decree to allow the district to offer, in good faith, certain AP and honors courses and continue magnet, scholarship, and research programs, reporting the enrollment numbers of those courses and programs by race at the end of each year, with the rest of the decree remaining in effect. The Court also stated that the decree would be in force for five years, and that on June 30, 2014, the district would undergo a full evaluation and be given the chance to be declared a unitary district.
On June 20th, 2012, the Court approved a change in attendance zones in the school district, saying that it would not affect the ongoing desegregation efforts.
On August 15, 2014, the School Board submitted a status report stating that it has not communicated a desire to its legal counsel to have the Court declare the district unitary. Thus the litigation continues.Claire Lally - 11/05/2014