MONROE, La. (AP) — The Justice Department has announced a settlement aimed at ensuring Black students have better access to a Louisiana public school that only enrolled White students when it opened more than a century ago.
The settlement approved Tuesday by a federal judge is designed to resolve lingering desegregation issues at the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, a school for young children that Louisiana Tech University operates on its Lincoln Parish campus.
The school, which serves students from kindergarten through 8th grade, was first ordered to desegregate in 1984.
When the federal court reactivated the desegregation case in 2008, nearly 85 percent of the school’s students were White and less than 12 percent were Black. The number and percentage of Black students enrolled in the school have increased each year since the 2008-2009 school year, according to the settlement.
The Justice Department says Louisiana Tech agreed more needed to be done to increase the percentage of Black students enrolled in the school. The settlement calls for expanding school facilities to two classrooms per grade level to accommodate more Black students.
The school was founded around 1910 as a “practice school” for Louisiana Tech’s teacher training program, when the university was known as the Louisiana Industrial Institute. The school, which has been on the college campus since 1969, is government funded but also charges an annual tuition of $2,200.
The settlement also calls for offering tuition scholarships to Black students and taking steps to recruit Black candidates for staff and teaching jobs at the school.
Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement that the settlement “establishes long overdue protections critical to increasing the enrollment of – and support for – Black students at A.E. Phillips.”
“We commend the Louisiana Tech community for its firm commitment to make the promise of equal access to education a reality for all children, regardless of the color of their skin,” Gupta said.