JEFFERSON PARISH, La. – On Wednesday, May 3, the Jefferson Parish School Board plans to vote on new school attendance zones after announcing they will close six schools at the end of the school year. Those schools serve predominately Black and Latino students. The following statement is from Lauren Winkler, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
“The SPLC is calling for a moratorium on plans by the Jefferson Parish School Board to close six schools that primarily serve Black and Latino students, including delaying a vote this week on a new attendance map.
“More time is needed for meaningful community conversations and engagement regarding the school closures approved by the board in April. The actions of the school board members who are making the decisions to close these schools show that they do not represent the interests of the majority of the Black and Brown families and students affected by the closures – and their voices have not been sufficiently heard. We support the community’s request for details and input on how the transition will take place before the board moves forward with its plans.
“As we described in our complaint to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, these school closures raise serious concerns involving civil rights violations and discrimination based on race and national origin. We have also heard from families of students with disabilities who are worried about how the changes could disrupt their students’ education.
“We urge the Jefferson Parish School Board to halt any further advancement of these plans for at least one year until more details are shared with the community, adequate time is given for their input, and there are assurances that these closures will not violate federal statutes prohibiting discrimination based on race, national origin and disability status.”