Thursday, September 26, 2013
Just 30 days after the trial held in late August, the trial court in Everett v. Pitt County issued its order yesterday. The court avoided much of the present day controversy over segregation in the schools by retroactively declaring the district unitary as of the 1970s (or 1980s; it is not altogether clear). This retroactive declaration of unitary status is somewhat odd, given that the district was still under the supervision of the courts at that time and subsequently was under the supervision of OCR. Moreover, the means by which the court reasoned the schools were unitary was rather forgiving. The court adopted a plus or minus 20 percent standard, rather than the plus or minus 10 or 15 percent predominantly used. With this wide variance, the district's schools would have been deemed balanced even though some schools approached 70% minority and others approached 70% white. Thus, in effect, a district could operate some schools as predominantly white and others as predominantly minority and still call them racially balanced. The courts willingness to assess racial balance based not on district wide demographics, but neighborhood or geographic demographics was similarly curious. Assuming there is an appeal, it will be interesting, as the 4th Circuit has already overturned the district court once on the current issues. See Everett v. Pitt Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 678 F.3d 281, 284 (4th Cir. 2012). For the full opinion from yesterday, see here: Download Pitt county ORDER.