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Southern Poverty Law Center Seeks Federal Investigation of School Closures in Jefferson Parish School District

OCR Complaint Claims School Closures Disproportionately Target Schools Serving Black and Latino Students, in Violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed an administrative complaint today with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, urging the department to investigate a decision by the Jefferson Parish School Board to close several schools in the district that predominately serve Black and Latino students.

The complaint describes how the school closures will have a disproportionate and discriminatory impact on Black and Latino students and communities, in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which prohibits racial discrimination.

“The Jefferson Parish School District is 34 percent Black, 22 percent white, and 37 percent Hispanic. However, the schools that the School Board is closing serve an overwhelming majority of Black and Latino students, and are located in communities of color,” the complaint states.

On April 5, the Jefferson Parish School Board voted to close several schools largely attended by Black and Latino students, despite pleas from parents, students and educators to keep them open. Parents, students, alumni and members of the community who attended the meeting submitted up to three hours of public comment opposing the plan. The SPLC sent a letter to the board on April 4 urging them to delay the vote to allow more time for community input.

“The board’s decision disproportionately targets schools that overwhelmingly serve Black and Latino students in the district,” said Lauren Winkler, senior staff attorney for the SPLC. “We’re filing this complaint to address the discriminatory effects of this decision and ensure the voices of those impacted are heard.”

A copy of the administrative complaint can be found here.