Monroe Dispatch - No Struggle, No Progress

NAACP... School Board Unitary Status Unacceptable


October 26, 2017 | View PDF

Rev. Ambrose Douzart

A local civil rights group said that it could not support the Monroe City School Board as it seeks relief from federal oversight concerning a decades old desegregation lawsuit. The Monroe chapter of the NAACP held a Tuesday afternoon press conference, denouncing the school board's attempt to free itself from a federal lawsuit that literally looked as though it would never come to a satisfactory conclusion. The Consent Decree that has had jurisdiction over how the Monroe City System has gone about desegregating the city's schools has been a sticking point through many appearances before the courts. NAACP President Rev. Ambrose Douzart said that he believes that his group should have been asked for their input from the school board prior to the board's announcement that the system was seeking unitary status. Douzart said that a decision that will have a lasting impact on the children that attend Monroe City Schools might not be in their best interest. In a press release, Douzart said that with the history of the school system, and the problems that had to be confronted to "fully desegregate", perhaps the board is rushing to a conclusion where more time may be needed. He said that the NAACP should be at the table to share its views, as well as getting input from the community.

Superintendent Brent Vidrine shot back, saying that the organization "never contacted them at any time", nor offered any support during the entire court challenge. Vidrine said that "recent developments" have led the board to believe that the desegregation order that the board has been under is nearing a conclusion. Rev. Douzart in his press release said that the NAACP "has not been involved" in the process, adding there were many components that have not been explained to them, or the community. The question remains in Douzart's mind, is whether African-American children "will be treated fairly". "The goal of the group is to see equality all across the board", said Douzart. There are those in the community that believe that once the board is no longer under federal decree, it will not fully adhere to the judgment, because of the history of the school system. "This is not the time to ease up", said Douzart, noting that the board has been guilty of having secret meetings or changes in meetings with very short notice to the public.

Douzart also wonders why the board wants be declared "under unitary status" if everything is in order, then why the rush? That was one of the main reasons why the NAACP is objecting to the board's request, adding that more time is needed. Supt. Vidrine said that the system "is all about children, and what is best for them", which the community has heard from the board many times before. A lawsuit is expected to be filed in federal court, while the school board announced that a unitary status hearing is tentatively scheduled for some time next month.


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