A Tennessee school district systematically segregated African-American students for decades, but on Tuesday reached a settlement with the Justice Department that assures reform, but no penalty for its crimes.
Robertson County Schools built and expanded virtually every all-white school in its district. Meanwhile, it left “African-American students disproportionately in overcrowded schools with portable classrooms,” the DOJ said in a statement.
Still, the agreement ensured that the federal government will not take legal action against the county.
Black youth account for one in every 10 students of the more than 5,000 who attend the district’s 11 schools. Whites represent 72.5 percent of the district.
It was not clear when the alleged segregation began, but The Tennessean reported that the school district did not follow a desegregation plan that it had agreed to in 1970.
Under the agreement, a new elementary school set to open next will be desegregated; overcrowding at predominantly minority schools will be “addressed;” changes in student assignment to middle and high schools will be made to help desegregate; and “cultural sensitivity and competency training” will be provided to teachers and staff.
Additionally, the Justice Department will be required to be notified by the county if it opens, builds, closes or renovates any school that would impact student assignments. The agreement also extends to charter schools.
Robertson is required to provide the federal government with an annual report on its current enrollment demographics for the next five years, though the feds may request additional reports after 2020 to monitor compliance.