Settlement reached with Louisiana Tech to desegregate A.E. Phillips Laboratory School

courtesy: MGN Online
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WASHINGTON (US Atty Office) - The Justice Department announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with Louisiana Tech University to ensure that black students have access to the high-quality education programs at the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, a K-8 public school operated by Louisiana Tech on its campus in Lincoln Parish. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana today approved the court-ordered agreement, which will reduce barriers to enrollment for black students and further desegregate A.E. Phillips’ faculty, staff and facilities.

A.E. Phillips, which opened in approximately 1910 as a segregated school serving only white students, was first ordered to desegregate in 1984. Following an investigation the Justice Department concluded, and Louisiana Tech agreed, that more work is needed to open up A.E. Phillips’ quality educational program to all students of Lincoln Parish. As a laboratory school, A.E. Phillips is known for its strong academic programs and teaching, and serves as a resource for Louisiana Tech’s College of Education to train future teachers and apply innovative education techniques.

The University of Louisiana System, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education are also parties to the settlement agreement.

Under the consent order, Louisiana Tech and A.E. Phillips will do the following:

• increase the percentage of black student enrollment so that the percentage of black students enrolled at A.E. Phillips reflects the percentage of black students in grades K-8 enrolled in Lincoln Parish School Board’s schools by the 2020 through 2021 school year;

• take steps to expand A.E. Phillips’ existing facilities to two classrooms per grade level to accommodate additional black student enrollment;

• develop a comprehensive plan to recruit black students for incoming kindergarten classes and for available vacancies in other grade levels;

• offer full and partial tuition scholarships to admitted black students who are eligible for free and reduced price student meals under the federal guidelines;

• offer free and reduced price meals to admitted black students who meet the federal requirements for assistance; and

• take affirmative measures to recruit black candidates for administrator, teacher, certified staff and other staff vacancies at the school.

“We commend the Louisiana Tech community for its firm commitment to make the promise of equal access to education a reality for all children, regardless of the color of their skin,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our consent order establishes long overdue protections critical to increasing the enrollment of – and support for – black students at A.E. Phillips.”

“All students should have a quality education and should not be barred from any school that provides them that education,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana. “This consent order will have an important and lasting impact for all the students in the Lincoln Parish community. The children of Louisiana should always be the focus. We look forward to continuing to work with Louisiana Tech, A.E. Phillips and the state education agencies to ensure that the order is successfully implemented.”

The order dismisses the court’s supervision of the desegregation of A.E. Phillips in the areas of transportation and extracurricular activities. Upon full implementation of the consent order, Louisiana Tech and the state education agencies may seek the court’s approval to dismiss the desegregation case against A.E. Phillips.

Promoting school desegregation and enforcing Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website [link posted in the related links section of this story]

** The full Louisiana Tech University Consent Order has been posted in the related documents section of this story. **
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Statement from Louisiana Tech and A.E. Phillips Lab School:
“Louisiana Tech University and A. E. Phillips Laboratory School are pleased to announce that after years of collaboration with the Department of Justice (DOJ), we are entering the final phase of a legal process to address desegregation issues, which originated many decades ago. We appreciate the guidance received from the DOJ to meet our shared goals of providing a safe, high quality educational environment with a rigorous and innovative curriculum while serving a diverse student and faculty population that reflects the Lincoln Parish community. While the process required considerable effort and discussion by both parties, it has provided two favorable results; a reasonable agreement that provides a pathway to meeting mutually beneficial objectives and an opportunity for Louisiana Tech University and A.E. Phillips to reflect and act upon its shared academic and social goals and grow its strategic and academic partnership.

Known for its strong academic focus and innovative teaching strategies, A.E. Phillips’ will continue to pursue its growth strategies, both physically and academically through increasing the student population by adding a second class to each grade level that currently only has one. Through this growth and a focus on offering new opportunities to minority students, faculty and staff, A.E. Phillips looks forward to engaging a larger and more diverse student body while preparing them to be high achieving, responsible citizens in an increasingly diverse and competitive world.

Through this collaborative effort with the DOJ, A. E. Phillips and Louisiana Tech University are enacting a progressive strategy for meeting the standards set forth in the consent decree. Louisiana Tech and A. E. Phillips are committed to successfully fulfilling its obligations and to continuing to offer exceptional educational opportunities to the children and families of Lincoln Parish.”