Education

More News | | E-mail Reporter

Top Story: Desegregation order lifted after 40 years

Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:42 PM
Last updated Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 12:15 AM
  • Follow Education

A chapter in history was closed this year when a federal judge lifted a 40-year-old court order that forced the desegregation of the Richmond County school system and spurred the racial equality in classrooms today.

The case began in 1964 when a group of activists led by 17-year-old Robert Acree sued the system for blatantly ignoring the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which declared separate schools for blacks and whites unconstitutional.

By 1972, Richmond Coun­ty schools remained segregated, and U.S. District Judge Alexander A. Lawrence issued a desegregation order specifying a plan for clustering schools and busing white and black children to learn together.

Over the next few decades, the school system worked to balance the ratios of students, educators, administrators and non-teaching staff such as custodians and school nutrition specialists. The order remained, even as the demographics of the district flipped from majority white to 75 percent black and more blacks took leadership roles as principals and superintendents.

On June 26, U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. ruled that the system had achieved “unitary status” and should be released from the order.

The courts look at six factors established through a landmark 1968 case when determining whether a system is desegregated: student assignment, faculty assignment, staff assignment, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities.

In a hearing in federal court June 17 – the 49th anniversary of Acree’s lawsuit – board attorney Pete Fletcher, who has been involved in the case since the 1970s, and Benjamin Allen, who began representing the plaintiffs in 1986, presented evidence showing those six factors had been fulfilled.

In addition to the change in racial ratios of students, millions of dollars in upgrades have been invested in schools across the district and improvements in transportation continue.

Without debating the advances made, some Board of Education members, including Barbara Pulliam, said the order served as a safeguard and oversight to make sure progress didn’t backtrack. In a city with undeniable racial tensions, Pulliam said, there was no harm in keeping the order on the books just in case.

“In Augusta, people deal too much in color,” Pulliam said in June. “The trust isn’t there. Both sides see everything in white and black. A white judge, a black judge. A white sheriff, a black sheriff. It’s like living in the ’60s. So I don’t think either side is ready to be without it.”

Board member Frank Dolan often said he felt the order was a mark on the city’s image and discouraged industry from coming.

After the order was lifted, nothing changed immediately except on paper. The school system has non-discriminatory employment practices and will continue with them, officials said.

Because the order allowed the district’s magnet schools to use race as a factor in the admissions process, Superintendent Frank Roberson said at the time that his staff would have to re-examine policies to prepare for the 2014-15 class.

Allen said there have been no formal meetings since the order was lifted, and he’s comfortable moving forward without the oversight. He said the school system now has a diverse leadership that is responsible for maintaining equality.

“The main thing I want the school system to focus on is educating children, that’s it,” he said. “Irregardless of color, ethnicity, what have you … I think if you continue to have the balance that we have on the board and the community continues to push for educating children, we’re going to be OK.”

Comments (24) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
nocnoc
69290
Points
nocnoc 12/21/13 - 08:59 pm
6
2
I was in HJH when this happen.

The parents went Berserk in Richmond Co.
Kids were being bused all over hells 1/2 acre in Richmond Co.

Church Schools popped up for the Upper class that could afford them.

Kids living around the corner from a neighborhood school ended up traveling 45 mins to an hours to get to another school.

But when you look at the Black students school, Floyd Graham(sp) compared Hephzibah Elementary, or other white schools
SOMETHING was needed to balance the education.

The Parent's solution, SOS week.
Save Our Schools aka parent approved Hooky week.

Yes the Fed's needed to do something, Stupid as BUSING was as a solution. But there was no way they were going to build suitable schools in time, or wanted to, to integrate the students in a less hostile manner.

May 11, 1970 was fresh and still in the minds of the White parents and fears ran deep in Richmond Co.

Although bigotry, played a major part in some of the parental fears. Over the last 40 years some of those fears have proven to be just.

For the most part WE the kids got along and mingled with only some minor social integration issues.

nocnoc
69290
Points
nocnoc 12/21/13 - 09:18 pm
6
1
Additional notes:

While some wanted the order to remain as a safeguard and have FEDERAL oversight, to make sure progress didn’t backtrack.

I fail to understand the validity of that statement as a argument. Since RCBOE has had an overall diminished Education score and lower Graduation rates, all while under the Federal Court order for 40 years.

How much did the Federal Court order end up costing the RCBOE over 40 years that could have been used to improve the education for the student?

BUSES, GAS a lawyer collecting about $30K a year and paperwork for 40 years must have ran in the
Multi-$million$.

All of which was NOT spent on the students.

BTW: One thing for sure.
RCBOE now has a free hand and ZERO excuses.
Much is expected of RCBOE in the next generation.

soldout
1287
Points
soldout 12/21/13 - 09:59 pm
8
1
fair and equal

Now that all is fair and equal why aren't the results wonderful too. Good parents always produce good students and good citizens. Nothing else really matters. Equal opportunity never creates equal outcomes. Taking God out of school was the beginning of the end and now we see the end of the end. Public education was an experiment that has failed overall.

jbartley
740
Points
jbartley 12/21/13 - 10:44 pm
4
2
Neighborhood Schools

neighborhood schools are back crime will start dropping and parents will be walking kids to school again!

Riverman1
120504
Points
Riverman1 12/21/13 - 11:47 pm
11
2
When you have a school

When you have a school district that's 75% black with a majority black school board, black superintendent in a majority black county, if anyone should be supporting continued federal oversight, it's the whites.

GnipGnop
13738
Points
GnipGnop 12/22/13 - 12:30 am
9
1
Just like anything...

The federal government puts their hands on this was a failed experiment. I was one of the kids that was put in private school. Not because my mom and dad didn't want me to go to school with blacks. They moved to a neighborhood that had schools nearby for a reason. Who would want their kids sent across town when the whole purpose of a neighborhood school is proximity and access in case of emergencies? Not to mention the extra hour to hour and a half spent on a school bus wasting more taxpayer money...congrats to the federal government for the start of dumbing down schools and NCLB finishing them off. Next up your healthcare system screwed up beyond comprehension.....

GiantsAllDay
14689
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/22/13 - 05:39 am
4
6
This news??? what is wrong

This news??? what is wrong with the AC? A federal judge approved same sex marriage in Utah!! yesterday!! So it is creeping ever so closely to Georgia--if the augusta chronicle ignores it--will go away?
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/57295302-90/vanessa-katie-marriage...

soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:10 am
0
0
Not just the rich who sent their kids to private/church schools
Unpublished

Some parents worked overtime and extra jobs to send their kids t o a place of safety, respect, discipline and learning.

soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:11 am
1
0
Desegragation was never about education. It was about governmen
Unpublished

control of the next generation. Creating little totally dependent comrades.

soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:12 am
0
0
The socialist experiment worked. Look to the results.
Unpublished

The socialist experiment worked. Look to the results.

soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:14 am
0
0
The Communist Revolution cared only for the young. The old
Unpublished

did not matter. Well trained youth is the future of a totalitarian state.

soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:15 am
0
0
soapy_725
45604
Points
soapy_725 12/22/13 - 09:16 am
0
0
Government housing, education, medication. Socialism is working.
Unpublished

Government housing, education, medication. Socialism is working.

Pops
24428
Points
Pops 12/22/13 - 09:29 am
6
1
"Barbara Pulliam, said the

"Barbara Pulliam, said the order served as a safeguard and oversight to make sure progress didn’t backtrack."

Progress......progress.....what real progress was made Ms. Pulliam?

ymnbde
14185
Points
ymnbde 12/22/13 - 09:59 am
4
1
so, George Wallace once stood at the school door

to keep black kids out
now the federal government stands at the school door
to keep black kids in
their substandard schools
that don't educate, and graduate black children who read on an 8th grade level
my goodness, how did this busing integration thing work out for us?
it would be quite comical, if it weren't so sad
"busing white and black children to learn together."
well, now it is neither busing nor learning
to send a child to most public schools is a form of abuse
we should give parents vouchers, and let them send their child
to the school of their choice... just like a rich person
public schools exist primarily to support the public school bureaucracy
they shuffle kids like a bunch of paper dolls
educating children is a lower priority
notice anything missing from this list of factors?
"student assignment, faculty assignment, staff assignment, transportation, extracurricular activities and facilities"
yep, education. Nothing about actually educating the child.
but shhh... all the paper dolls are evenly distributed
George Wallace won...

seenitB4
128350
Points
seenitB4 12/22/13 - 10:35 am
4
2
75% black now...

Well now..that really worked well, huh..

A nightmare that has eneded....40 years worth of money thrown at this problem.....tell me again how well the schools are doing in Richmond county?

BTW...I lived there & lived through the mess....NO ONE wants a child bussed across country & that is what happened. The very reason some buy a house is because of the school system...keep going & at this rate we will stay at zero education rates.

countyman
23562
Points
countyman 12/22/13 - 01:19 pm
1
4
Facts

Why does Riverman continue to portray his opinions as facts?

The superintendent in RC is black and 4 of the top 6 administrators are white...

I believe five of the school board members are white compared to three blacks..

The school district is not 75% black and many schools are doing just fine in Richmond County.. The media and the people who bash Augusta everyday obviously don't want to mention them...

Freedom Park was named an 'national model school' back in 2011 and Lake Forest Hills is now an IB school...

InChristLove
22491
Points
InChristLove 12/22/13 - 01:30 pm
4
0
I don't know about the racial

I don't know about the racial makeup of the school district but countyman, Richmond County schools are not doing fine. With a graduation rate of 58% for all Richmond County, I'd say that is NOT fine. Three high schools out of 10, two of them being magnet schools, have a graduation rate above 70%. That is horrible.

seenitB4
128350
Points
seenitB4 12/22/13 - 01:52 pm
4
1
icl is right--in the news Dec 2013

Richmond County’s 2013 graduation rate fell 1 percentage point from last year to 58 percent, well below the state average

countyman
23562
Points
countyman 12/22/13 - 02:16 pm
1
1
ICL... I never said all the

ICL... I never said all the schools in the county are doing fine and those are only the high schools... The RCBOE can definitely improve in many different areas..

The new vocational high school in South Augusta doesn't have an graduation yet because it just opened recently.. The school will automatically raise the county's graduation rate and will probably graduate 100% of their students like Davidson and AR Johnson..

The graduation rate, SAT, ACT, etc scores at Westside were dramatically affected by the RCBOE previous decision to allow students from all over to attend. The school routinely beat out every high school in Columbia County the last decade except for usually Lakeside/Greenbrier and it won't take long before their back on track. The graduation rate at ARC will continue to improve due to the IB program.

Only two of the high schools in CC have an graduation rate between 80%-83% and its an suburban county... The rates at Greenbrier, Evans, and Grovetown are only between 72%-76%.

InChristLove
22491
Points
InChristLove 12/22/13 - 02:17 pm
4
0
Countyman, I don't care what

Countyman, I don't care what Columbia county is doing or what their rate is. Does not matter if our elementary and middle schools are doing because if they do well, make it to our high schools, and don't graduate then all the accomplishments in 1-8 grades means nothing.

The new vocational school doesn't have a graduation rate....so why bring it up? We are taking about our school system now and it stinks! You can praise what might be, what should be, but I'm concerned about what is!! And it's horrible.

countyman
23562
Points
countyman 12/22/13 - 02:28 pm
2
1
Seenitb4.. The year before

Seenitb4.. The year before the graduation rate increased from 54% to 59%.... I don't think you can draw any conclusions from such an short period of time. The graduation rate should hopefully reach close to 75% by 2016...

ICL....The new high school was mentioned because it's apart of the county..... The entire system does need better strategic planning but multiple schools are moving forward with successful initiatives...

The RCBOE also can do an better job of keeping the high school age students in the system. Convince some of the parents they don't have to use the private schools.

The change begins at the elementary school level and young families can help speed up the process..

seenitB4
128350
Points
seenitB4 12/22/13 - 02:27 pm
3
1
Coulda woulda shoulda ctyman

When a person is looking for a job..the employer asks--"Did you graduate from high school?" They don't compare rates with other counties....
They don't say...well the rates will be great in another year or so..they don't give a rat's behind about OTHER COUNTIES!

Riverman1
120504
Points
Riverman1 12/22/13 - 05:34 pm
2
1
Let Me Be Accurate

Oops, excuse me. The Richmond County School System website says they have 73% black students and 22% white. The BOE is split 5 blacks and 5 whites. The BOE Chairman is black as is the Superintendent. The article is about the 40 year old desegregation court order. It doesn't look like it did much to me.

Pops
24428
Points
Pops 12/22/13 - 05:35 pm
1
0
Tell me this Countyman

were you here in the early seventies when all this started? Yes or no.

Darby
39473
Points
Darby 12/22/13 - 05:51 pm
1
0
"The school will automatically raise the county's

graduation rate and will probably graduate 100% of their students like Davidson and AR Johnson.."

.
Can you say "wishful thinking"?

Sounds a lot like "If you like your doctor you can keep him" and "My plan will save an average of $2,500 over what people are paying now".

People should NOT forecast the future based on what THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN.

Because when those wonderful things fail to materialize, then you are left with no option but to blame George Bush.

Gage Creed
23019
Points
Gage Creed 12/22/13 - 06:31 pm
0
0
Facts are amazing when you make them up!

I see Aesop is at it again...

Darby
39473
Points
Darby 12/22/13 - 06:50 pm
2
0
We will know that we are on the right track when

the poorest performing school in the county has a "legitimate" graduation rate equal to or better than the national average.

To do that will mean the abandonment of racial politics in our schools, the elimination of political correctness and a full and complete concentration on academic achievement by staff, faculty and students. No exceptions!

But don't hold your breath....

Little Lamb
56773
Points
Little Lamb 12/22/13 - 07:03 pm
0
0
Retract

Countyman posted:

I believe five of the school board members are white compared to three blacks.

You need to post a retraction, Countyman. There are ten members (the correct term is "trustees") on the Richmond County Board of Education. They are elected by the public from districts approved by the legislature.

Little Lamb
56773
Points
Little Lamb 12/22/13 - 07:07 pm
0
0
Force

Riverman posted:

When you have a school district that's 75% black with a majority black school board, black superintendent in a majority black county, if anyone should be supporting continued federal oversight, it's the whites.

Yeah, RM, I get where you're coming from. But politics is not logical. In the world of politics, victimhood is king. No matter how big a percentage of the population becomes black, the government will still classify them as "minority."

The more accurate term is special protected class.

The homosexuals are seeking special protected class designation for themselves, and, though Congress has not yet designated it such, it's almost here.

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Commissioners leaning toward not funding groups

Commissioners have stressed needs over wants in the new package after the first SPLOST 7 referendum failed last year, and despite impassioned presentations Tuesday, leaders did not change their minds.
Search Augusta jobs