Richland desegregation order interfering with transfer options - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; |

Richland desegregation order interfering with transfer options

Posted: Updated: Aug 1, 2012 06:49 PM

RAYVILLE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - Students from failing schools across the state are now allowed to transfer to better schools. But for parishes under a federal desegregation order, the option isn't available to all students.

The Richland Parish federal desegregation cause is throwing kinks into the state's "public school choice policy" here at Rayville elementary school. Louisiana's public school choice policy allows students from failing schools to transfer to better performing ones. But for Richland Parish and other parishes under desegregation orders, that's only if the student is a certain color. A letter sent to parents from the superintendent makes that clear, it states because of the provisions in the Richland parish school desegregation case, white children can't leave failing Rayville elementary for a better school, the letter was also sent to Delhi elementary and middle school parents.

"If we would have not included the statement in the letter, it would have not created the controversy that we are currently experiencing, as a school district, however we were advised by legal council to include that in our letters." said Sheldon Jones, Richland Superintendent.

Parent Anna Johnston says all children should have the opportunity to transfer to better performing schools. "It shouldn't make a difference what color skin a child has" she said and Richland Parish School Board President Kevin Eppinette agrees. But he says because federal orders trump all, while the parish is under the desegregation order--their hands are tied.

"It all needs to be thrown out and revamped, but unfortunately we have to follow what we're under now in the meantime, until something can be changed." said Eppinette.

The Louisiana Department of Education released a statement saying:

"The Louisiana Department of Education believes all children in the state should have the opportunity to determine the best school for their children. We hope the Richland Parish School Board and the U.S. Department of Justice will continue to work together to resolve this issue and ensure all students have equal access to a high quality education."

Relief from the student transfer provisions must be granted by the United States District Court.

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