Center files Extraordinary Writ to Fourth Circuit

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On October 9, the Center for Civil Rights, on behalf of Plaintiffs in the Everett v. Pitt County Schools desegregation case, petitioned to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals for a Writ of Mandamus ordering the District Court in Greenville, NC to comply with the appellate court’s May 2012 ruling regarding the county’s 2011-2012 student assignment plan. More about the history of this case.

Last spring, the Fourth Circuit vacated the lower court’s ruling in favor of the school board regarding its 2011-2012 student assignment plan, which the Plaintiffs argued increased racial isolation in the district, as well as opening a racially and socioeconomically hyper-segregated new school. The Fourth Circuit remanded the case with clear instructions for the district court to reconsider the motion, but to place the proper burden on the school board to prove that on the 2011-2012 plan complies with the district’s affirmative duty to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination and move towards unitary status.

Following their victory in the appeal’s court, the Plaintiffs sought expedited reconsideration of their original motion. Subsequently, the school board filed a Motion for Unitary Status and requested that this motion be heard jointly with issues on remand. On September 10, the district court ruled that it would consider both motions in a single hearing.

The Center argued that the district court’s order merging these issues violates both the express terms and spirit of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the 2011-2012 assignment plan, and filed the petition for a Writ of Mandamus to enforce that ruling. The Petition also contends that the district court order contravenes the controlling law of the case and numerous on-the-record statements by the Board — some as recently as 2011 – that the district is not unitary.

The Petition for Writ of Mandamus also highlights the district court’s delay in responding to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The appeals court called for an immediate resolution on the potentially discriminatory student assignment plan, stating that anything less “would necessarily, but impermissibly, provide the School Board with latitude to discriminate pending the resolution of some further hearing.” Given the time needed to develop a new student assignment plan, this continued delay denies all students of Pitt County a meaningful remedy to the continuing racial isolation of the 2011-2012 plan. Read the Petition for Writ of Mandamus (PDF).

The Petition requests a Writ of Mandamus be issued, ordering the district court to comply with the Fourth Circuit’s previous decision and to immediately hold a separate and independent hearing and rule on the 2011-2012 student assignment plan.

Posted by Mark Dorosin on Tue. October 16, 2012 3:10 PM
Categories: Education, Pitt County, Race Discrimination, Segregation
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