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Cleveland, Miss., District Ordered to Desegregate After 60 Years of Resistance

Despite the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ordering the desegregation of public schools nationwide, one small Mississippi district had resisted—until now.

A federal court has ordered the 3,600-student Cleveland, Miss., school district, where middle and high school students are still separated largely on the basis of race, to desegregate its schools.

Under the order, the district must merge its historically black and virtually all-white high schools and two middle schools to form one high school and one middle school.

"This decision serves as a reminder to districts that delaying desegregation obligations is both unacceptable and unconstitutional," Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of civil rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a statement.

"This victory creates new opportunities for the children of Cleveland to learn, play and thrive together. The court's ruling will result in the immediate and effective desegregation of the district's middle school and high school program for the first time in the district's more than century-long history."

Education Week wrote about the legal battles in Cleveland two years ago as part of a special report on the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the principle of "separate but equal" education.

As part of the federal order, the district will also "review existing educational programs and identify new programs for the consolidated schools, address staffing considerations and perform necessary maintenance and upgrades to facilities," according to a Justice Department release.

   Northern District of Mississippi Opinion and Order in Cleveland Case by corey_c_mitchell

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