Valdosta City Schools Granted Full "Unitary Status" By Federal Court

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Update: Winnie Wright
July 29, 2014

Valdosta, GA - Senior U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Valdosta City Schools nearly 43 years ago.

The school system appeared in Federal Court last month, seeking "Unitary Status", or being released from the Court's supervision, having met stipulations for a desegregation plan set forth by the Court.

Tuesday, Judge Lawson's decision was handed down, and favored the School System.

In a statement, Superintendent Martin Roesch, had this to say, “Valdosta City Schools is pleased to have this behind us. We look forward to moving ahead, serving the boys and girls of our system.”

Winnie Wright
June 30, 2014

Valdosta, GA - A South Georgia school system has been under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice for more than 40 years. The school system was in federal court today, trying to change that.

Valdosta City Schools appeared in the U.S. District Court Monday morning with their motion to dismiss a case filed against them in 1971. According to court documents, Valdosta City Schools was accused of:
1. Not fully desegregating the school system,
2. Having mostly black teachers teaching black students, and vice versa,
3. Not having a high enough percentage of black faculty.

In 2012, the court agreed that VCS had met the requirements for orders one and two. Monday, they argued that three, having enough black faculty at each school has been met.

"We've demonstrated that we've done that. Of course we will continue our recruitment efforts. And hopefully attract some talented teachers, that are very diverse, to Valdosta City Schools", says Superintendent, Martin Roesch.

But not everyone agrees. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference spoke in opposition of full Unitary Status for the school system.

"We aren't saying that there aren't black administrators now, or black educators, there are. But they are also there because pressure has been put on them to hire those folks.So I think number one, they didn't do that out of the goodness of the school system, they had to be forced to do that", says Dr. Mark Patrick George, Education Committee Chairperson for the Lowndes/Valdosta SCLC.

The SCLC says they worry that without the court's supervision, the school system will revert back to their old ways.

Representatives from the Department of Justice also spoke in court and said they have no objections to the motion to dismiss. Judge Lawson says he will look over both sides and issue a ruling in a timely manner.