Body Camp Elementary School in Bedford Va closed at the end of the 201415 year Bedford County Public Schools

Body Camp Elementary School in Bedford, Va., closed at the end of the 2014-15 year.

School closing in Virginia discriminates against African Americans, lawsuit alleges

Group contends that the Bedford County school board was motivated by racial bias when it voted to close Body Camp Elementary School.

Students who attended an elementary school in Bedford, Va., contend in a lawsuit filed on their behalf that the school board's decision to close their school was racially biased.

The suit, filed initially in Bedford County, but later transferred to federal court, argues that Bedford County board members decided to close Body Camp Elementary even though an efficiency review of the district recommended closing two other schools.

"One or more of the individual school board members who voted for the closure were motivated by racial bias," the suit says. "As a result of the closure, most of the minority students will be bused to Huddleston Elementary School...resulting in overcrowding of that school and installation of mobile classrooms to accommodate the overcrowding."

The suit also alleges that although the board said closing Camp Body was an effort to save money, one of the schools that had been recommended for closure but is remaining open, Moneta Elementary, "requires an expenditure of over $400,000 to return its septic system to operation."

The Bedford County board voted 4 to 3 last year to close the Body Camp campus at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

Body Camp is described in the suit as a historically black school that opened in 1959 as a segregated school for African-American students. It later became the first school in the county to be integrated.

About 30 percent of the 188 students at Body Camp were racial minorities--the highest percentage of any school in the Bedford County district, the suit says. Only about 12 percent of the 234 students at Moneta were a racial minority in 2014-15.

A federal judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the case this week, The Lynchburg News & Advance reports.

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