In July 2006, the ACLU of Alabama joined this long-running school desegregation case which was originally filed in 1963. Our immediate goal was to prevent the Pickens County School Board from closing the Carrollton Unit School, a majority African American school which the school board had neglected for years while allocating disproportionate resources to a predominantly white school in another part of the county. Closing the Carrollton school, the only school in the Carrollton community, would have resulted in more harm to Black students in the county than white students, thereby violating the federal court’s holdings in the case. Plaintiffs were successful in obtaining a court order requiring the school board to keep grades K–6 at Carrollton open and to work to make the school a success. It was not possible to keep the higher grades open as the buildings that housed those students had been neglected to the point that they were uninhabitable and beyond repair. We are monitoring to ensure that the Board complies with the Court’s order to keep the school open and work to make it a success.
In addition, we are working to stop the race-based discrimination in the allocation of resources in Pickens County schools so that African American students have the same opportunity that white students do to graduate from high school, earn the more valuable diplomas and attend college or technical school. The disparity in educational opportunity between Black and white students in the system is dramatic and has led to African American students dropping out at higher rates, graduating with less meaningful diplomas and scoring lower on standardized tests.
A further Consent Decree was negotiated by the parties and entered by the Court on August 4, 2011, to remedy the vestiges of racial segregation in Pickens County schools. Our goal is to obtain fairness for racial minority students in Pickens County schools in course offerings, extracurricular activities, discipline, college scholarship opportunities, drop-out rates and other quality of education issues. The Decree details requirements for the Pickens County Board of Education to meet and requires it to file an annual report on the Benchmarks, Timelines and Standards set forth in the Order. The Board is required to meet twice a year, in April and October, with the Plaintiffs to review progress toward compliance with the Decree. Implementation of the Consent Decree is still ongoing.