African-American students will be provided greater access to a K-8 school run by Louisiana Tech University, under a desegregation agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and the university.
The Justice Department says in a news release that the settlement agreement will reduce barriers to enrollment for black students at the A.E. Phillips Laboratory School, which is on the Louisiana Tech campus in Ruston. The settlement also calls upon the university to further desegregate the lab school's faculty, staff and facilities.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. James approved the consent order.
A.E. Phillips opened more than 100 years ago as a segregated institution that served only white students. It was first ordered to desegregate in 1984. In 2011, the Justice Department raised concerns about the lack of desegregation at A.E. Phillips, and in 2013, it filed a court motion seeking a new desegregation plan. Subsequent negotiations led to the agreement to open up A.E. Phillips’ educational program to all students in the area.
The lab school is known for its strong academic programs and teaching and serves as a resource for Louisiana Tech’s College of Education to train future teachers and apply education techniques.
The consent agreement calls for Louisiana Tech and A.E. Phillips to:
- Raise the percentage of Phillips' black student enrollment by 2020-21 so that it reflects the percentage of black students in grades K-8 enrolled in Lincoln Parish (La.) School Board’s schools by the 2020 through 2021 school year.
- Take steps to expand Phillips’ existing facilities to two classrooms per grade level to accommodate more black students.
- Develop a comprehensive plan to recruit black students for kindergarten classes and for available vacancies in other grade levels.
- Offer full and partial tuition scholarships to black students who are eligible for free and reduced price student meals.
- Offer free and reduced price meals to black students who meet the federal requirements for assistance.
- Take steps to recruit black candidates for administrator, teacher, certified staff and other staff vacancies.
“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,” says Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our consent order establishes long overdue protections critical to increasing the enrollment of – and support for – black students at A.E. Phillips.”
Once the university and lab school have carried out the consent order, Louisiana Tech and the state education agencies may the court to dismiss the desegregation case against A.E. Phillips.