• Proposed Consent Order

    The Lawrence County Board of Education and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, representing the Black
    school children of Lawrence County, have reached agreement in the Board’s decades old school
    desegregation lawsuit. The Board filed a Joint Motion for Approval of Consent Order for Provisional
    Unitary Status with the Court. If approved by the Court, this agreement will declare that the Board of
    Education has achieved Provisional Unitary Status, and, if the Board upholds its end of the agreement for
    the next three years, the agreement will result in a complete dismissal of the desegregation lawsuit.
    Importantly, the Proposed Consent Order for Unitary Status must be approved by the Court presiding over
    the Board’s desegregation lawsuit. The agreement is not final until approved by the Court. The Board
    expects that the Court will, in the near future, schedule a fairness hearing to discuss the Proposed Consent
    Order before deciding whether or not to approve the agreement. The Board will release more information
    regarding any fairness hearing when it becomes available.

    The Board’s Superintendent, Dr. Jon Bret Smith, had the following to say regarding the agreement:
    “I want to drive home a couple of provisions of this agreement that are most important to me. First, the
    terms of this agreement boil down to one thing: they are good for all our students. The agreement is very
    detailed, but, at its core, it is simply a document full of provisions that ensure all our students have a fair
    chance to participate in all the great things that our district has to offer.

    Second, the agreement contains provisions that continue to make the recruitment of diverse and highly
    qualified faculty and staff a key focus of the Board. We will be taking steps to ensure that, like with our
    students, all current and prospective faculty and staff members continue to get a fair opportunity to be a
    part of our great school district.

    Lastly, and why this is such a turning point in the case, is that the agreement – which we will ask the
    Court to approve as a Consent Decree – would declare that the Board of Education has earned Provisional
    Unitary Status. While this is an exciting development for the Board and this community, it is also a public
    recognition of the incredible work of our faculty, staff, students, families, and this entire County. This is a
    community accomplishment.

    I want to emphasize that this is not the end. There is no end to doing right for our students. Instead, the
    agreement marks the next step in our efforts to do right by students. If our team does what it has
    committed to do in this agreement – and we will –the Board of Education will be in position to seek
    complete unitary status in three years. Very few school districts in this state can make that statement. This
    is a huge accomplishment for this school system and this community.”