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Case Name United States v. Covington County School District SD-MS-0008
Docket / Court 2:66-cv-02148-KS ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) School Desegregation
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
This is a school desegregation case filed December 12, 1966 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought this suit to integrate schools in Covington County, Mississippi because Covington County’s freedom of choice plan ... read more >
This is a school desegregation case filed December 12, 1966 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) brought this suit to integrate schools in Covington County, Mississippi because Covington County’s freedom of choice plan perpetuated a segregated school system.

In its early years, this matter was consolidated with twenty-four other school desegregation cases in the Southern District of Mississippi under the name United States v. Hinds County School Board. For more details see this special case entry/a> in the Clearinghouse. All the district judges in the Southern District of Mississippi heard the issue together, and in an unavailable en banc district court opinion, allowed the continued use of a freedom of choice plan to desegregate the schools. The Fifth Circuit heard an appeal and reversed the district court’s decision, holding that freedom of choice plans were insufficient to desegregate the schools and establish a unitary system. The Fifth Circuit reasoned that since all of the school districts, including Covington County, continued to operate all-black schools, the freedom of choice plans had to be abandoned and other methods, like zoning and pairing, would be used to desegregate schools instead. The Fifth Circuit remanded the case to the district court and ordered the school districts to submit new desegregation plans to the district court. Additionally, the Fifth Circuit requested that the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) assist the school districts as they prepared their new desegregation plans. U.S. v. Hinds County School District, 417 F.2d 852 (5th Cir. 1969) (per curiam).

Covington County was desegregated under a November 7, 1969 court order. Students were assigned to schools to eliminate a segregated, dual system. All Covington County schools were integrated with the exception of the Hopewell Attendance Center. According to a later opinion, the Hopewell Attendance Center was “located near one corner of rural Covington County, and in an area having a predominantly black population.” The Fifth Circuit originally anticipated that there would be approximately twenty-five white students who would attend school at Hopewell; however, that approximation never materialized. Several years later, in 1975, the case returned to the Fifth Circuit after the DOJ “discovered that the white students in the Hopewell area had not been attending the Hopewell Attendance Center.” The Fifth Circuit ordered Covington County to modify its school assignment system so that all students, black and white, who lived in the Hopewell area were required to attend the Hopewell Attendance Center. U.S. v. Hinds County School District, 516 F.2d 974 (5th Cir. 1975).

The case was inactive until the 2000s. In 2003, the DOJ filed a motion for further relief. After multiple extensions time, on July 5, 2005, District Judge Keith Starrett approved a joint consent decree. This consent decree required that Covington County not use race to determine eligibility for extracurricular activities and forced Covington County to develop nondiscriminatory policies for its extracurricular activities.

Another consent decree was entered as part of a case settlement on March 8, 2006. There were five main provisions in this consent decree. First, students in the Hopewell attendance zone were assigned to the Hopewell Attendance Center for kindergarten through sixth grades and to Seminary Middle School and Seminary High School (formerly majority white schools) for seventh through twelfth grades. Second, Covington County agreed to publicize its majority-to-minority transfer program, which allowed students within Covington County to transfer from a school where they were in a majority racial group to a school where they were in the minority racial group. Third, Covington County committed to establishing a compensatory enrichment program at the Hopewell Attendance Center to “enhance education” at the school and to “encourage white students who reside in other attendance zones” to transfer to Hopewell. Fourth, Covington County had to conduct a facilities organization study and agreed to submit all plans to build or renovate the Seminary schools to the United States. Fifth, Covington County had to analyze all bus routes for the Hopewell Attendance Center to reduce the amount of time students spent on busses as much as possible.

Covington County submitted annual reports to the court through the 2010s. As of April 2017, the case remains open.

Available Opinions
United States v. Hinds Cty. Sch. Bd., 417 F.2d 852 (5th Cir. 1969), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 1032.
United States v. Hinds Cty. Sch. Bd., 423 F.2d 1264 (5th Cir. 1969).
United States v. Hinds Cty. Sch. Bd., 516 F.2d 974 (5th Cir. 1975).
United States v. Covington Cty. Sch. Dist., 499 F.3d 464 (5th Cir. 2007).

Amelia Huckins - 04/02/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Reporting
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Zoning
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Buildings
Education
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Racial segregation
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Covington County School District
Plaintiff Description The United States Department of Justice was the plaintiff.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1969 - n/a
Filing Year 1966
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing SD-MS-0035 : 30 Related School Desegregation Cases in the Southern District of Mississippi (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0032 : U.S. v. Hinds County School District (S.D. Miss.)
Docket(s)
2:66-cv-02148-KS (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:66-cv-02148-KS (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0008-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/29/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order and Opinion (516 F.2d 974)
SD-MS-0008-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/21/1975
Source: Google Scholar
Consent Decree (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/05/2005
Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Consent Decree (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2006
Source: U.S. DOJ, Civil Rights Division, Education Section
Order and Opinion (499 F.3d 464)
SD-MS-0008-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/05/2007
Source: Google Scholar
Covington County School Districts 2012 report [ECF# 6]
SD-MS-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2012
Source: Pro Publica
Covington County School District's 2013 Report to Court [ECF# 7]
SD-MS-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2013
Source: Pro Publica
Judges Bell, Griffin Boyette (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0005
Benavides, Fortunato Pedro (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0006
Garza, Emilio M. (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0006
King, Carolyn Dineen (Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0006
Morgan, Lewis Render (N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0005
Starrett, Keith (S.D. Miss.)
SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004 | SD-MS-0008-9001
Thornberry, William Homer (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
SD-MS-0008-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berman, Amy I. (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-9001
Clark, Ramsey (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-9000
Doar, John (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-9000
Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-0003
Gordon, Daniel Scott (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-9000
Guzman, Javier M (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004
Lampton, Dunn (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0004
Rhee, William (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004
Turner, James P. (District of Columbia)
SD-MS-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adams, Holmes S. (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0001 | SD-MS-0008-0002 | SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004 | SD-MS-0008-9000 | SD-MS-0008-9001
Hooks, John Simeon (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0001 | SD-MS-0008-0002 | SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004 | SD-MS-0008-9001
Keith, James Allen (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0003
Rogers, Tommy B. (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0001 | SD-MS-0008-0002 | SD-MS-0008-0003 | SD-MS-0008-0004 | SD-MS-0008-9001
Rose, Laura Ford (Mississippi)
SD-MS-0008-0001 | SD-MS-0008-0002

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