In St. Landry, the School Board has submitted three attendance plans for elementary schools and one high school plan as the means to put remaining integration issues to rest.
On Monday, the Justice Department and the 43-year-old case’s original plaintiffs’ attorneys, said one of the elementary plans - A, which is the most drastic of the board options -is the most effective, but falls short.
And DOJ attorney Lisa Taylor and plaintiffs’ counsel Marion Overton White and Normand Chachkin, told the court that a plan developed by the court’s Bi-Racial Committee is a much better solution.
That plan would close all the schools in the northern portion of the parish, pair numerous elementary schools, change high school attendance zones and require new construction. The board rejected it out of hand.
Eunice schools are not severely impacted by either of the alternatives.
As far as the board’s Elementary Plan A, the government and the plaintiffs ask Judge Tucker Melancon to consider it only if attendance zones involving Washington Elementary and Port Barre Elementary are addressed.
In the Evangeline case, voters on Tuesday will face for the third time in the past year a school-construction tax question. Should the $17 million proposal fail, Melancon has already set a Nov. 17 hearing on whether to close Ville Platte High.
The Justice Department late last week proposed a desegregation plan that would send all students from the predominantly black Ville Platte High School to the predominantly white Pine Prairie High School should the tax fail.
The School Board’s plan would split Ville Platte High’s 400 students between Pine Prairie High School and Mamou High School.
Pine Prairie has an obvious racial imbalance, according to Justice’s filing, while the racial mix of Mamou High’s student population already mirrors that of the school system as a whole.
Pine Prairie is 84 percent white, but would be 52 percent white under Justice’s plan, according to court filings.
The government’s proposition would also shift K-four students who are on the Pine Prairie High campus to Vidrine Elementary and shift grades five-eight at Vidrine Elementary to the Ville Platte High campus, which would serve as middle school.
The shifting of the lower grades would bring the black student population on the Ville Platte campus down from 77 percent to 69 percent, according to court filings.
Justice Department attorneys wrote that “unlike the district’s plan, which places the burden solely on the majority black Ville Platte population to travel to other schools, the United States’ plan equitably distributes the burden.”