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Report: Miss. District Floats Desegregation Plan That Would Close Black Schools

A Mississippi school district that was ordered in May to desegregate its middle and high schools is offering the court an alternative desegregation plan, the Associated Press reported.

But the Cleveland school district's proposal to comply with the judge's ruling and integrate its schools would lead to the closure of the city's historically black schools, the AP said. 

U.S. District Judge Debra Brown had ordered the district, in the Mississippi Delta, to consolidate its two middle schools and high schools so that all high school students would attend one high school and all middle school students would attend a single middle school.  

Under Brown's order, high school students would attend a combined campus on Cleveland High and Margaret Green. East Side High School, a historically black school, would have become a combined middle school, according to the AP.  D.M. Smith Middle School was scheduled to close.  

The district had said it would appeal the court's ruling, arguing, among things, that the court's proposal would lead to an exodus of white students.

The Associated Press reported that based on a new district proposal, students in grades 7-12 would attend Cleveland High School and Margaret Green Junior High School, while most sixth graders would attend classes at what is now an alternative school. East Side High School would close under the district's plan, the AP said. 

The district, which is predominantly black, hopes the new proposal would prevent white flight, the AP reported. 

Judge Brown still has to approve the district's plan, and a hearing on the district's proposal could be held in January, according to the AP.  Brown had sought to integrate the schools by the fall 2017.

Many African-American residents were not happy that the district's new plan would close schools in black neighborhoods, the AP said.

"The plan calls for closing down all the schools on the black side of town and moving all the kids to the white side of town," the Associated Press quoted Rev. Edward DuVall, as saying. "The bottom line is racism."

DuVall and others supporters would like the district to build a new high school to house white and black students and offer new programs.

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