Black Parents Use Civil War-era Law To Sue “Inequitable” Mississippi School Districts
The Washington Post reports, The Southern Poverty Law Center is using a 147-year-old legal argument in an attempt to address what it describes as “gross inequities” between majority-white and majority-black public schools in Mississippi.
In a lawsuit filed on tuesday, they allege that poor academic outcomes for black students in Mississippi are a direct result of the state’s failure to live up to the terms of its ‘readmission to the Union’ following the Civil War.
As part of the terms of readmission, Mississippi was required to create a “uniform system of free public schools” for all citizens, both black and white. However, the state constitution changed several times until in 1890 it allowed only for “separate but equal” systems.
Will Bardwell, a lawyer at the Southern Poverty Law Center says Mississippi has withheld their promise of uniform schools, according to the law.
“Today, Mississippi schools are anything but uniform. If you’re a kid in Mississippi, your chances of getting a good education depend largely on whether your school is mostly white or mostly black. That is not a uniform system.”
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant clapped back at the complaint, calling it “another attempt by the Southern Poverty Law Center to fundraise on the backs of Mississippi taxpayers.”
According to the report, Mississippi is among the nation’s lowest-performing states on many academic measures.