Judge must approve school reconfiguration plan
The Webster Parish School Board and community members will have to wait nearly two weeks to find out if decisions to reconfigure schools and change attendance zones will be approved.
Federal District Judge Hicks presided over a hearing in Shreveport yesterday, as Attorney Robert Hammonds explained the case for approving the board's proposals.
"It does not appear to be in violation of any law and appears to allow for further education opportunities for those involved." Hicks said.
Before the proceedings could begin, the court addressed the absence of plaintiffs against the WPSB. Attempts to contact previous plaintiffs were made and no formal objections to the proposal were made at the hearing.
Judge Hicks was also interested in how the proposal will affect the racial balance of schools.
"We have current and proposed ratios (of school's racial statistics)," Hicks said. "In particular we note Sarepta, Jones, Stewart and the Webster Parish Achievement Center (WPAC)."
These schools are currently racially identifiable with Sarepta having a vast white majority. Jones, Stewart and WPAC are identified as currently having a majority black student population.
WPSB Superintendent W.W. Williams, Assistant Superintendent Jackie Sharp and Secondary Supervisor Morris Busby supported the proposal in testimony saying it would further desegregation, have academic advantages and offer part of a large solution of the board's finances.
"It's a win, win, win," said Hammonds.
"The proposal suggested by the WPSB appears to be in order to the court," he continued, stressing the "appears".
A final written ruling should be received by the WPSB in about two weeks.
"Time to review the proposal more closely and to look into three letters of opposition to the proposal is needed," said Hicks. "While not proper parties they are a part of the information I will consider in making this decision."
Hammonds said he was not aware of the letters, and no further information regarding the contents of the letters was given.
However, Hicks assured Hammonds he would receive the information in due time.